Monday, October 5, 2009

Horseback Riding - How to Canter Or Lope

The canter is widely regarded as being the most difficult pace for a horse to perform correctly. Before attempting to canter it is strongly advised that one has already mastered walking and trotting, and for the slower paces a smooth control needs to be maintained.
When one learns how to canter well whilst practicing a relaxed posture in the saddle and moving in sync with the slightly rocking motion, the exercise of cantering is a comfortable one. The main challenge is for one to learn how to adjust to the fast three-time beat bounding pace where each stride is followed by a period of suspension when all four feet are in the air at once.
The following steps are a useful guide when learning to canter:
(1) It is important that your horse maintains a smooth trotting action to begin with in preparation to begin cantering; the better trotting technique maintained, the smoother the transition to cantering will be.
(2) It is also important to teach the horse being ridden to strike off on the correct leg. When riding in a straight-line either leg may lead yet when turning or circling the inside pair (both fore and hind legs) must lead in order for the horse to maintain its balance. Care must be taken depending on whether one is cantering to the left or right when determining the best leg to lead off on.
(3) When cantering, first tighten your seat muscles and hold the horse together with legs and hands. Control the horse's direction through flexing with legs. ease your rein to provide freedom of movement.
(4) Maintain a straight, relaxed sitting posture and let your hips go with the horse's movement to allow your seat to remain in the saddle. Ensure that one hand holds a neck-strap or pommel to maximize a safe riding technique.
(5) Continue the cantering by keeping your legs firmly in place. The horse's balance is promoted by keeping his strides short and bouncy.
Effective cantering is best achieved when a smooth, fluid motion is mastered. Reins must never be too long otherwise control of the mount and one's balance may be compromised.
Don't lean too far forward or too far back and ensure that your back remains relaxed and that the seating position is comfortable.
Pace needs to be maintained; going too fast will cause the horse to gallop, too slow and a trotting action will ensue.
A good communication and attaining of the 'entente cordiale' between horse and rider will lead to the smoothest gait.
Happy riding!
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