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.

January Training Task

Over the Christmas break I had this idea to put together little challenges or tasks for 2021. Something to get us thinking about the different aspects of our training, keep us motivated, help with current issues or just something we haven’t thought about before. It is not something competitive to see who can do something ‘better’!

This month for January I wanted to do a ‘transitions’ task.

Now this training task will focus on:

Transitions within the gait

  • Trot– focusing on the horse to wait and to be able to come back on our aids then to be able to go back into a working trot again.
  • Canter – If you have a few more miles under your belt to be able to play around with the canter more, it’s a great exercise to start to work with.
Things to think about:
  • Keeping balance – not letting them want to pick up the lateral pair. They must keep the diagonal pair.
  • Connection in the bridle- keep a consistent contact and connection with the frame. We don’t want the frame/posture to change only the tempo.
  • Not to bring them back too far and getting stuck.
    • The idea is to keep the balance throughout the exercise being adjustable within the trot or canter work.
  • Finding that area where they might want to break into a pace. When you find that area and build on from it, you’ll know where your limits are.
  • If they are wanting to break into a pace while doing this exercise. Start to troubleshoot.
    • Bring it onto a 20m circle.
    • While in working trot, connecting your inside leg to your outside rein. This is helping to connect the horses inside hind leg to the outside shoulder.
    • Make sure you have a good connection through the reins and into the bridle.
    • Ride a shoulder fore on the circle before starting to play around with the transitions.

 

Benefits of this task:
  • Great exercise when you’re warming up if they are behind your leg
  • Finding more gears within your work
  • Getting the horse to use their hind quarters more
  • Will improve transitions in and out

 

Share your videos in the Team Standardbred Facebook group or if you don’t want to post in the group send them to me directly!

 

Any questions please ask away in the Facebook group or contact me directly I’m more than happy to help!

 

I’ll be popping up my video over the next few days!

 

Just remember we are all on this training train together 🙂