Riding the Perfect Canter Transition

Posted by in accurate, Blog, canter, canter execises, canter exercise, canter transition strong pulling, canter transitions, canter transitions. centre line exercise. leg aids for canter., crooked in a canter transition, inside leg, The Perfect Canter Transition, training, training your horse, transition problems, transitions on Jan 3, 2011

Clear aids create accurate and calm canter transitions. Make sure you really understand your aids.

1.      Sitting trot tells your horse that a transition is coming.

2.      Asking in a corner encourages your horse to strike off with the correct lead.

3.      Your outside leg slides back to tell him which hind leg to start with.

4.      Your rein contact should stay firm to make sure he doesn’t rush.

5.      Your inside leg tells him when to strike off.

Try this.

Ride a 20m circle at one end in sitting trot.

Aim to ask for canter at A or C.

Put your outside leg back three strides before the marker but keep hold of your reins so he doesn’t canter.

At the marker give him a nudge with your inside leg. Now he should canter. If he doesn’t back up your leg with your whip.

Practice makes perfect and transitions ridden in this way mean that you are more in control of when and where your horse canters.

N.B. Many a crooked canter is caused by a crooked rider! Don’t forget to move your outside leg forward once you’re in canter.

For more ways to improve your canter check out the Teach Yourself schooling guide on canter problems and solutions – http://www.schoolyourhorse.com/shop/syh-books/school-your-horse-book-2-canter-problems-and-solutions/


  1. Jan 6, 2011

    I am having trouble with my horses canter. The transitions are ok but in the canter he gets stronger and faster. When we hit the long side he bolts down it and I struggle to hold him together! Please can you help!!


  2. Jan 7, 2011

    This is a common problem for so many riders and one that can easily be cured if you know how. Watch out for the next posting, it'll hopefully give you a few things to try. Good luck.

  3. Jan 3, 2012

    Hi Lorraine

    Lately I've been struggling to get my horse to canter, he merely trots faster, pulls his ears back and if I use the whip he bucks… Any advice?

  4. Jan 3, 2012

    Hi Anel, yours is a common problem and could stem from three things. Either you’re being tight in your arm and hand, your sitting trot is slightly unbalanced or you’re freezing at the last minute because you’re worried you might spoil things(!) any one of these faults will cause the problem. The actual cause isn’t too much of a worry – the end result is what’s creating the trouble. Your horse stops using his hocks as you ask for canter, tightens and hollows his back and rushes.

    The answer is to push him forward from both legs into a steady contact. Your calf muscles should stay firmly against his side – use your heel inside and outside to ask for the strike off. Keep your rein contact even in both hands and make sure your hands stay still. By doing this you’ll be pushing his hocks under his body and you’ll be containing him with your reins.

    It’s easy to tip forward and lose the rein contact as you ask – especially if things aren’t going well. You need to do the opposite. Instead take your time, sit back and keep hold of that contact. That way you’ll keep your weight back and keep your horse’s weight back on his hocks.

    Practise by riding a 20m circle in sitting trot. Sometimes the fact you sit just before a transition is enough to set the problem off. Stay in sitting trot and ask for canter anywhere on the circle when you feel your horse is going forward and is in both reins. If you can’t feel him on the end of the reins shorten them up and put more leg on to push him to your hand. He may lift his head to resist BUT if you keep the pressure steady he’ll soon realise you’re not giving in.

    As this is about the transition not the canter allow him to canter for four or five strides and then trot again. Settle the trot (sitting) and ask again. With enough practice you’ll be able to canter half a circle and trot half a circle.

    The most important thing for you to remember is to keep your legs on at the moment of asking – so many riders sit absolutely still at this point and that’s exactly what allows their horse to hollow.

    I hope this is clear and helpful. Please feel free to come back and say “No it’s not!” Sometimes just talking about these problems gets them sorted. Good luck. Lorraine


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