Your Canter Questions Part 3 (Dressage Mastery TV Ep272)
The biggest thing I see when people lose the canter and the horses keep falling back into trot is A, not feeling the loss of engagement quick enough.
A horse won’t go from a big, bold canter into trot without warning. He will disengage. You’ll feel a feeling in his back that almost feels like he’s split in half, or you’ll feel the canter slow down, or you’ll feel that the horse will lose his balance and kind of throw his shoulders in or out. You’ll have a sign that something is not going fabulously and then the horse will trot.
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Okay, so how do you keep your horse cantering? The biggest thing I see when people lose the canter and the horses keep falling back into trot is A, not feeling the loss of engagement quick enough. A horse won’t go from a big, bold canter … Hey, hey, hey. Relax. A horse won’t go from a big, bold canter into trot without warning. He will disengage. You’ll feel a feeling in his back that almost feels like he’s split in half, or you’ll feel the canter slow down, or you’ll feel that the horse will lose his balance and kind of throw his shoulders in or out. You’ll have a sign that something is not going fabulously and then the horse will trot.
So the big key is to make sure when you’re cantering that you can feel when it’s about to happen and you keep the horse in canter before that happens. So I’m in canter. If I stop riding, come on, do it. There. There. Sorry, and that little kick-out was because I put my leg on him. I felt him about the trot, and I said, “Don’t you dare.” So my legs are off. I’m not keeping him in canter. Yeah. And there, see how he slowed down? He was about to trot. I say ah, ah, ah, legs come on. Now my legs are off. My legs are off. My legs are off. My legs are off. My legs are off. Good boy.
And he’s been very trained, because obviously I’m working on collection. And he goes. So I’m going to tell him off for that, because he’s not allowed to put his hind legs like that. But I’m working on collection, so I want him to slow down his canter without my legs having to be on. Ah, ah, ah, and see there? He almost trotted, so we go back out into big, bold canter again and then I say, “I just need you to hold the canter.” My legs are off. Don’t override the horse. If he falls into trot, you can fix it, or if he goes into almost trot, you can fix it. Oh, we lost it.
Good boy. He’s not really going to be a great example, because he’s been really well trained, but basically, if they go into trot, so I’m going to have to ask him to trot, straight-away canter again. And go for a bit of a gallop. Yeah, gallop, and then back into a normal trot. So the horse knows. The horses are very, very smart. Good boy. Horses are super, super, super smart, aren’t you? You’re so super, super, super, smart. And if every time your horse trots and you make it gallop, and by gallop, I don’t like to gallop, but extend canter, not just back into a normal canter. Go for a bit bigger, bolder canter for a couple of strides. Thank you very much. If you do that, the horse will go, “Oh, okay. Every time I trot, there’s no point, because she makes me work even harder.” Hey, relax. “Makes me work even harder and I have to quicker, quicker, quicker, quicker, quicker, so I won’t fall into a trot.”
So you could see when I was collecting him going, “Go on, fall into trot,” he knew the consequences. He was like, “I’m not going to go into trot because you’re just going to gallop me forward again, so I’m going to have to accept that you want me to slow down. I’m going to have to collect. I’m going to have to sit on my hind legs, but going into trot isn’t an option.”
So just train your horse the consequence that trotting means I’m going to have to canter faster and canter longer than if I just stay in canter. And horses, like I said, are smart, will learn that super quick. You will be fine.