Friday, April 6, 2012

Canter cues

I may have mentioned a time or two that my attempts to get Coriander to canter on the left lead had so far been less than successful. I was starting to wonder if he might have a physical issue that was making it hard for him. Because of that, we did a bit of lunging last month so I could see if something was going on (it appears that the massages that have been helping my migraines have also made me less nauseous for lunging. Coincidence?)

While it would take quite a bit of urging for him to pick up the canter on the line, there was no difference between the right and the left lead. So that left me as the problem. Hmmm...

Fast forward to this week's lesson on the freisian. It seemed that the last person to ride him was having a very bad day and just could not get him to canter. Because of that, and I think because I've had issues with the canter depart, we ended up doing a LOT of trot/canter transitions.

Want to know what I learned? Of course you do.

Like most huntseat riders I was taught to cue the canter by sitting and swinging the outside leg leg. But if the horse didn't immediately strike off I'd have to try harder, sitting deeper, swinging the leg further back- I'd end up putting myself into a fetal position to get the transition. Bet you all can guess how well that worked out for me.

But on the friesian I tried something different, I picked up my inside seat bone and just pressed with my outside leg. BOOM! Canter. The most beautiful part was that I was able to stay upright for the cue, because without swinging the outside leg back I couldn't curl up into the fetal position. Pretty sweet.

A freisian, because you all seem to enjoy them

So I took this new information, and the knowledge I put in my last post, back to Coriander. We went out to a section of the trail where he already likes to canter and where I could start him with a left turn. We walked up to the turn, I used my inside leg to ask for the bend with an outside neck rein, scooped with my seat and put on a little outside leg at the girth.... and wouldn't you know it, we got left lead canter. We got left lead canter SIX times in a row!

I'm going to see if we can replicate that experience tonight. I'm REALLY hoping it wasn't just a fluke. But it made me very curious- just how many ways are there to get a horse to canter?

What is your canter/lope cue?

22 comments:

  1. My cue for now is different than what I hope the final cue is, but at this moment in time, I tip her nose slightly to the inside, then roll my hips to the inside while touching the go button with my outside leg. I'm hoping eventually all I'll have to do is roll my hips to the inside, but for now there's still way too much work to be done with her lope to use that alone.

    For Lilly, her right lead is the tough one. If I don't tip her nose inside, she'll pick up the left lead. When we're loping to the left, I can skip the nose tipping part and just roll my hips and hit the go button.

    I'm so glad you had such a good lesson and that it translated to your ride on Coriander!

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    1. Interesting how horses can be so different. I tried the nose tip with Coriander and he just went through his shoulder. I needed to get a little bend through his ribcage first.

      I bet it won't take long for Lilly to pickup on the seat cue alone. Just keep at it :)

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  2. So interesting! For Laz, going to the left is his way, always gets his correct lead. Its my stronger side too, so it just works. Going to the right (clockwise) he will still use his left lead, even on line *most times not all* so I'm not sure how to encourage the correct, while thinking he still isn't sound enough to do it....and I'm sure I'm not asking correctly, as like you, it was outside bump bump bump. Not even sure I could pretend to lift/pick my inside seat, but I'm going to try!!
    VERY interesting post and I'm curious to see all the 'requests' that people have of their horses for correct leads.

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    1. Hmm, sounds like he's still got something physical going on there. PT time!

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  3. Coming from a dressage background, I ask for the lead with inside leg and half halt if needed with outside rein.
    Most of my guys have issues with the right lead.Always fun working on canter.

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    1. That's exactly what I've ended up doing :) Funny how things work out.

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  4. Awesome description of an allowing aid. I had the opposite problem a little while ago. I rode a horse that I only know from the ground and when I asked for canter as Harley has taught me, I got nothing. Maybe that doesn't sound like the opposite problem, but it was, because I had to "use more leg" rather than just think up and canter. I am used to Harley who will canter just about as soon as I start thinking about it. The challenge with him is not thinking canter. He hates too much outside leg action, preferring a swing forward of my inside leg, which should have a similar effect on the inside seatbone. I used to consistently get the outside lead, because I was taught to overposition the horse which blocked his inside shoulder. The harder I tried, the more strongly he jumped onto the outside lead and then after like a million repeitions I realized it was me. ;)

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    1. An allowing aid- that's what that is?

      Every single time I get on a new horse I can't canter. Part of it is because my canter cue has always been sub-par but I think every horse has idiosyncrasies when it comes to cantering.

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  5. Uhh... smooch smooch smooch? I'm a terrible rider :) Glad you got the Friesian AND Coriander going good!

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    1. That's perfectly legitimate. Most horses are taught a voice cue first as part of their training, nothing wrong with using it :)

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  6. Very interesting! My first horse was a totally one leaded guy and similar to your story he was perfectly fine with his leads on the longeline. On week I took him to my dressage coach for a lesson and she jumped on...boom, right lead! I wish I'd managed to figure out the magic trick as fast as you did, though lol, seems to me I still struggled for a long time.

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    1. Ugh, Katie's coming out next month and while I want her to get on Coriander I'm kind of dreading it for that reason. I don't want her to teach him something I can't!

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  7. The Friesan in the picture is absolutely beautiful. Glad you found what works for Coriander. Have a great weekend.

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    1. He's nicely uphill in that photo, isn't he?

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  8. It's great that you solved the problem - good riding / thinking. I've changed my aid as my horse's training changed (asking for more roundness) and now I half halt on the outside as I lightly put the outside leg on. If I'm trotting I sit a few srides before asking.
    I really enjoyed your past post too and now I have a better understanding of the outside rein. I knew it works and ride this way, but now have a better understanding of how it works. Thanks!

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    1. Half halt with the rein you mean? Or your seat? So many variations possible...

      Glad my neck reining post made sense to you. It's been making quite a difference for my boy- not so much falling in on the inside shoulder anymore!

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  9. For left lead I tip his head out with right rein and squeeze with both legs while sitting a little further in the seat. Opposite for right lead.

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  10. Yay! My cue is similar to yours, but I TRY to put him into a slight shoulder in to help him pick up the desired lead. We are still working on canter transitions and right now, our trot to canter changes are awful. Walk to canter isn't bad.

    Reflections on Riding recently wrote a wonderful post on canter departs...and I gleaned some very valuable information from it! Worth a read: http://reflectionsonriding.com/2012/04/14/how-to-improve-your-canter-departs/

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    1. Hi Jenn, I tried to use the shoulder fore with my boy and it just wasn't working, I really had to get him to bend left to get the left lead.

      Funny you should mention Katie's blog. Fortunately for me she's coming to see us next month. I can't wait!

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    2. Lucky you to get a lesson from her! I learn a lot just from her blog, I can't even begin to imagine all the knowledge she imparts in a lesson!

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  11. Just discovered your blog and love it! I MUST try the lifting of the inside seatbone - have never done that in all my years of riding and it makes complete biomechanical sense.

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