How To Get The Correct Canter Lead?

Hey Dressage Superstars! Today’s question is, “How To Get The Correct Canter Lead?”

This is video 3 in a 4 part video series on mastering your canter. 

Okay, so when you’re cantering, your horse can canter on the right lead, which is this one or the left lead, which is this one. Now if you’re cantering in a circle, when you say I want the horse to pick up the correct lead, you want the horse to pick up the inside lead. When you get very masterful at riding dressage, there is no correct leads.

You want to get to the point where you can put your horse on the left lead or the right lead at will at any time. And of course do flyinh changes if you want to change what leads they’re on and all that kind of stuff. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. For a prelim, for the training level. We just want the horse to pick up the inside lead. So you have to think about, firstly, do you know what lead the horse is on?

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I’d love to hear from you how you go and what strategies you use to get a clean trot canter transition.

Offer as much details as possible in your reply – your story might just help someone else have a breakthrough in their riding journey!

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Thank so so much for reading, watching and sharing your story!

To Your Success,

Natasha Althoff

Full Transcript Expand to full transcript

Hey riding superstars. Today, I’m going to answer the question. How do you first tell what the correct lead is in the canter and how do you make sure that you can get the correct lead every single time?

Okay, so when you’re cantering, your horse can canter on the right lead, which is this one or the left lead, which is this one. Now if you’ll cantering in a circle, when you say I want the horse to pick up the correct lead, you want the horse to pick up the inside lead. When you get very masterful at riding dressage, there are no correct leads. You want to get to the point where you can put your horse on the left lead or the right lead at will at any time. And of course do flying changes if you want to change what leads they’re on and all that kind of stuff. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. For a prelim, for the training level. We just want the horse to pick up the inside lead. So you have to think about, firstly, do you know what lead the horse is on?

So I remember, oh god, I was so embarrassed. I didn’t know how to tell what lead my horse was on. And my instructor would go, “Is your horse on the correct lead, Natasha?” And I would look down because I know I should be looking, would not understand what the hell I’m looking at. Look back up and say yup and she would be either yes or no. And it was just a 50/50 guess. It’s how I did most of my riding, 50/50 guess. So to me when I looked down, both of the legs looked the same. So practice understanding what the legs are doing in walk. Get one of your riding friends and go, here’s me with my left and right. So this is right, isn’t it? Yeah. Or do what I do, which is inside, outside because that hurts my head less than, right.

So inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside and so I’m just saying inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside. When I see this shoulder. So if you look down here, there’s nothing. Then there’s something, if you draw a line all the way down, you don’t see a leg, then you see your leg. Whoops, see a leg. See a leg. See a leg. And it’s when you see the leg that you go, okay, “I’m seeing a leg.” So in the canter, you can kind of go, “Yep, I can see the inside, I can see the outside, inside, outside, inside, outside.” You want to do it in trot, inside, out, in, out, in, out, in, out. And then you go to canter, in, in, in, in, in. You just never see the outside leg as much. So stare down and go. “Do I see what I saw when working trot? Do I see in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out.”

And you don’t see it. And that’s lot to describe when you see it. You just see the one and that’s because he’s on the correct lead. Now if I pick up the incorrect lead, which isn’t so incorrect, it’s just the outside one.

Now I’m only seeing the outside, so outside, outside, outside, outside, outside. I just see it more in my line of vision than I see the inside one. So that’s how you tell if your horse is on the correct lead, which is the inside one or the outside lead. Just looked down and go, if I was to draw, let me just face the camera. If I was to draw a line, which leg goes further past the line, the inside one or the outside one? Practice, practice, practice. Get someone on the ground to teach you to see if you’ve got it right. And then you’ll get it. So that’s good. God forbid. This is why dressage is so complex, that’s the easy bit. So once you’ve got the easy bit, which I totally get is not that easy, we then need to progress to getting the correct lead.

So, we have to get the horse to pick up the canter and have it cantering that it’s right leg goes more forward. There’s technical names, but really basic of simplest terms. That’s what we want. So what that means, think about it yourself for a second. If I put weight on this shoulder, so I’m kind of falling in and because I’m falling in the horse is falling in, what shoulder is more free and you’re right, this one’s more free. Now if I put all my weight over here and load up my outside shoulder, this one’s more free. Good boy, Wessel. And you can see how much your body weight influences the horse because the horse is just going wherever I’m falling. So firstly, that’s really important that you’re not falling the wrong way, cause that will unbalance the horse and doing a canter transition on the correct lead is all about balance.

It’s all about having the horse balanced and with the correct weight on the correct part of his body so he can do the canter transition really easy. So what you have to do is make sure that you’ve got a little bit more weight onto the outside so that inside shoulders free to come forward. Now if you have too much, you’re absolutely going to get the wrong lead. So it’s not about having the horse say here, I can go, oh, I’m loading up the shoulder. Look, I’m loading up the shoulder. Look, I’m loading up the shoulder. No I’m not. I’ve lost the shoulder. The shoulder is gone out to nowhere. So you have to make sure you control the shoulder. Don’t let the shoulder, so here again, as I come to the camera, that’s the shoulder drifting out. I don’t want it to drift out.

I need to control it. So if anything, see how now I’ve gone, okay, we’ll shoulder falling in. Yes. So you as a rider and you can practice in walk. Go, “Okay, I want to move the shoulder out. Yup. And want to move the shoulder in.” So control that part of the horse. And when you’ve got that under control, you do that in trot and you go, okay, I go to close off that outside shoulder. I can’t, so if you see here it’s drifting. I’m going to get the wrong leg. Don’t let him drift. Shut down that corner, sorry, not corner, that shoulder. Make sure you’ve got control of the shoulder. Now you’ve got to have a little bit of bend to the inside. If I bend to the outside and I go, okay, ask for canter, ask for canter, I just asked for canter and Wessel went, I can’t canter left.

Oh sorry, I can’t canter right with my head to the left. He needs to have his head to the right, if I want him to canter right, so now I have control of the shoulder and shut down that shoulder so it can’t drift. I’ve bent him to the right and now when I ask for canter, good boy, it’s there perfectly okay, but let me show you again, bending him to the wrong way and then still with my outside leg I said cancer and he just goes, “I physically can’t do that mum.” So you as the rider, when your horse is not giving you the answer. You have to make sure that physically they can give you the right answer, that they’re in balance and they’re bending where they need to so their legs can do what you’re asking the legs to do. I know it’s complex.

I know it’s hard, guys. I struggled for years, like I said, to even know what these legs were doing and then years to get the correct canter leg. So, wherever you are in your journey. Lots of hugs, lots of kisses. We’ve all been there and just keep playing with it. You’re on a journey, not a destination. You don’t have to get this tomorrow. Just play with what happens when I put my horses head here. What happens when I put my horses head here? What happens, yeah, when I lose the shoulder, what happens when, or you might have a horse, you don’t lose the shoulder, but it keeps falling in. Now if a horse keeps falling in. Where does their head go? You’re right, to the outside. So are you going to get your canter lead? No you’re not? So it’s about having the nose in the middle of the chest, the horse straight so it can do what it needs to do. You’re doing awesome. All good.

And remember, if you want to see more videos in this canter, you can check out the links below and we have one more video coming next week, which is all about how to really control the shoulder and it really advanced ninja technique that once you’ve got this, you want to start progressing to. I had a trickier exercise and once you’ve mastered that exercise, you seriously will be a dressaging ninja. So that’s coming up. Can’t wait to share it with you guys. Have an amazing riding week and I’ll see you next time.

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