Learning to canter on horseback is a very important skill that all equestriennes or those who love to ride horses must master. Follow these useful tips below to practice cantering and become an experienced rider.
- Get on your horse and mount him. You would have to warm up first by doing a few walking and trotting exercises. Tie a rope on the horse and then attach this rope onto a pole. You can then easily trot around in circles. This should be a really easy way to warm up.
- A balanced and forward trot is a preparation for your hose to canter. Do a few strides and half-halt your horse before you let him do this. The preparations are necessary for the horse to achieve this with perfection.
- When you feel that the horse is prepared, begin to canter by slowly sliding one of your legs behind the horse's girth and then pressing this at his side. This should signal to the horse with cantering. If he doesn't get this, you can ask someone from the ground to carefully whip the horse, without actually hitting it. This should encourage the horse to start moving forward to canter.
- Always keep your balance in check. This is usually a common mistake; so make sure to take note of it. The horse's balance could affect their desire to move. Thus if not handled right, it will be more difficult to handle the horse to canter. Keeping the balance in check should also be less painful in the horse's mouth area. If you insist on pulling from its mouth, the horse will surely resist and could get hurt. If your horse is standing in the lunge line, you can then set him to a two-point post, careful to hold the horse by its mane and martingale (or the safety trap). This way, you don't pull the horse from the mouth and you encourage him easily.
- If the horse still doesn't budge and refuses to canter, it may just be because he is still not up to it. Give him lightly push by kicking him by the stride of your leg. You can also use a crop as reinforcement. However, if this is your first time learning to canter on horseback, hold off using the crop for a while as this requires experience. It's possible for new riders to handle this with an unbalanced degree of leniency or stiffness, and this is not good for your interaction with the horse.
- Remember to relax. It would be difficult at first and there is some level of stress with learning to canter, but take patience in the knowledge that practice eventually perfects the skill. Follow the horse's motion and never force it or else one of you will be unbalanced and hurt yourself. Keep your position vertically aligned, your legs still but not stiff and your muscles and hips absorbing all of the motion. Some horses can be a little rough or too fast. Try to lean back slightly to indicate that the horse needs to slow down. Never ever let your nervousness get in the way.