That Dreaded C Word – Canter

It’s no secret I’m lover of all things Standardbreds. I’ve been fortunate to have grown up surrounded by them. From breeding, training, racing then into their career after racing. Oh and I guess plenty of experience looking after the retired ones too!

The last 12 months or so after completing my EA Coaching, I’ve been helping my fellow Standardbred riders get the best out of their horses.

I come across horses at all different stages of their training, green horses to horses that have plenty of miles under their belts.

One thing I do come across is that dreaded C word.

Canter

I wanted to tell you one thing. It’s not impossible.

There is nothing holding you back. Speaking from my own experience, I’ve competed in more open competitions then I ever have within the Standardbred ring. It can be done.

 

But how?

Great question..

 

As much as we would like, there is no magic wand, no instant quick fix and certainly no tricks.

 

So, what is it?

 

Building blocks in our foundations, tackling and linking our blocks along the way.

 

We want to be an expert at the basics, our transitions not only in and out but within the gait. Keeping your horse balanced underneath you, not running away through the bridle. Having a genuine connection from the hind legs through your seat and into your hands from the bridle, working over their top line.

 

You can read a hundred different ways to get your Standardbred cantering, they’re all true someone has tried and tested it.

Don’t forget there are many ways not to get your Standardbred cantering, because we’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked!

 

My piece of advice to you (besides a few of those hundreds of exercises) is to ask yourself this. How good are your basics, are your building blocks helping you climb your way to success?

 

You want to be able to have that adjustable trot, being able to make it bigger and smaller.

 

When we first begin to ask for canter we only want to see a handful of strides, even if they are a four beat. Trust me, they will get more balanced and three beat over time.

 

9 times out of 10 they want to drop out of canter and run into trot, organise your trot again and reward. Use your voice, give them a pat! Don’t keep driving them in the canter to keep cantering or to find their balance.

 

Once you have your rhythm back in your trot work, ask again. Little bits at a time. You’ll soon be able to ride the canter like you ride the trot.

 

Of course, this all sounds simple in theory! But if it is something you’re struggling with or about to embark. Ask yourself, how good are your basic building blocks.

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