How do you keep yourself in the saddle in canter?
If you’re new to cantering it can be a little bit challenging. I’m not going to use the S word and say it’s scary, but obviously it’s a little bit fast, it moves you around so you don’t know quite what to expect and you might be worried that you might just end up falling onto the sand.
This horse has a really big canter and he still throws me around so I have to really make sure that I have all my muscles engaged to make sure he can’t throw me around.
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Okay, so if you’re new to cantering it can be a little bit challenging. I’m not going to use the S word and say it’s scary, but obviously it’s a little bit fast, it moves you around so you don’t know quite what to expect and you might be worried that you might just end up falling onto the sand. The very first thing I think about when I was teaching my husband how to ride and canter was okay, the first thing is if you’ve ever put a ragdoll on a horse especially in canter, the ragdoll kind of goes like, it’s really hard to do in the walk but it’s being thrown around by the horse’s movements.
This horse has a really big canter and he still throws me around so I have to really make sure that I have all my muscles engaged to make sure he can’t throw me around. When you’re first learning how to canter the first step I say is, I know it seems ridiculous, but hang onto the saddle and pull in. What happens is most of you come out of the saddle and start coming out like this and if you’re out of the saddle how can you stay in it. I feel very scared up here because I don’t have anything to anchor into. If you grab the saddle and pull yourself into it, so even do it in halt.
Grab that, engage that bicep, engage that shoulder and pull yourself into it. You’re going to put yourself into a better canter position because you’re going to tilt your pelvis, you’re going to make sure your seat bones tuck into the horse and you’re going to be here instead of out here. I’ll show you what I mean. Here’s and you go oh God I hate canter, oh God I hate canter. Grab, pull and it just helps me stabilize where I want my body to be, makes me feel safe because if I do lose my balance a little bit I can pull myself back in and I’ve got control.
Obviously you’ll be on a lunge or you’re on a quiet horse that you can steer like this. Good boy. Good boy, but yes. That’s the very first step. There’s no harm in hanging on. My husband did a whole safari trip around Africa like this. Oh no, he had the reins, he’s filming so he had the reins and the saddle like this and then he had the other hand out for balance. This was Phil’s riding style all through Africa and we were galloping up and down hills, chasing bison or God knows what we were doing, cantering with the giraffes and never once did I worry that he was going to come off.
It wasn’t orthodox, if you’re looking to be a Grand Prix dressage rider, I would not say stick with this strategy for the next 500 years but for your very first canter there’s absolutely nothing wrong if that makes you feel a little safer, a little bit more in the saddle and a little bit more in control.