Sitting to the canter
I thought I would do a series on sitting to the paces, starting, as titled, with canter. A lot of problems I see riders have is bouncing out of the saddle or aggressively moving their upper body. In canter your upper body should be still and your seat should be in contact with your saddle at all times!
Bouncing first. Bouncing is most likely caused by gripping with your legs – more specifically your knees. As you tighten your knees on the saddle everything above them will rise up – out of the saddle. It also reduces your security and throws your balance off. Best way to deal with this is to work on your seat without stirrups and to consciously think about relaxing your knees. Also BREATHE! Breathing is very important 😉
Aggressively moving the upper body next. This is where riders rock their torso forwards and backwards in some sort of attempt to keep the canter going or to feel like they are going with the movement, when in fact they are not. You need to strengthen and use your core muscles, push your shoulders back until they are in the neutral position (in line with hip and heel) and keep it like that throughout all 3 beats of the pace. You will get a much better canter out of your horse when you stop throwing your weight around and control your body correctly.
Lastly – how to sit perfectly to the canter. Canter has 3 beats and one will throw you up – this is where you need your core to be engaged and your knees to be relaxed. You want to absorb this movement in your ankles (heels down remember!) and continue absorbing in your seat and hip. You should be able to feel your seat bones in contact with the saddle. Try and focus on the scooping movement they do (DO NOT TRY AND SCOOP WITH THEM) and think about how it feels when going around a circle – your inside seat bone will be more in contact than your outside. You can speed and slow the canter by increasing and decreasing the speed of your seat bones. A big thing I see is riders tipping forward around corners and turns, you have to try and “lean back” if you do this to retain your neutral position and your turns and corners will be ten times better due to this (no extra weight on forehand allowing the horse to lift). A lot of movement from seat bones will be occurring in your seat and hip – this is where the movement should be – not in your leg or your upper body.
Let me know which pace you would like in the next Tip! and if there are any more tips you would like about problems you have sitting to the canter 🙂