An Exercise to Teach a Horse to Collect the Canter and Not Break to the Trot

collect your horses canter
  • User AvatarRobert Gage
  • 05 Oct, 2018
  • 3 Mins Read

An Exercise to Teach a Horse to Collect the Canter and Not Break to the Trot

Featured Image Credit (CC): thisisamyt on Flickr

Submitted by member: Darine

Hello, I would love some tips about how to shorten the stride of a horse in canter without falling into trot. I don’t have my own horse for now, but I ride two horses very often and have that problem with both of them. My coach tells me that it would be harder due to the fact that lower levels ride them too, and so they’re not always used to what I’m asking them to do. I’ve done lengthening and shortening strides on the long and short side of the arena, which I find difficult because I feel like I end up pulling on the reins rather than using my pelvis and legs. One horse is 17hh and so gets quite strong, the other is 15.3hh but is quite a hot headed horse. Can you please give me a few tips on how to shorten the stride of a horse without losing impulsion? I would greatly appreciate it.

Answer by Rob Gage

Here’s the exercise I’ve found useful over the years. Once we begin to canter, I start circling all the fences in the arena one at a time.  So, if there are 10 jumps in the ring, that makes 10 smallish circles. Most horses demonstrate one direction that they have more difficulty holding the canter, so I start with their difficult direction first. I then go the other way and finally repeat the first direction over again. That way, they practice their difficult lead twice. Of course, during some point of the circles, horses will still tend to fall back into a trot, because it’s easier for them and it’s more comfortable for them as well. So, it’s up to you as the rider to try and feel when your horse is about to break stride and touch them with a light spur just before or as they break.  If he does completely fall out of the canter, no problem (it’s bound to happen), just add a quick leg or spur until he jumps back into his canter, then you can continue with your circling exercise

Good luck!

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