28 August 2008 13:53
MY 17hh ID won’t stride out in his canter – even going cross-country he won’t come out of collected canter. My instructor says it’s because he doesn’t feel confident, and it’s not his teeth, back or tack, as I’ve had those checked. How can I help him?
By Your Horse
Dressage Rider and Trainer Claire Lilley replies:
There are a few exercises you can try, but first check that your position and aids are spot on. You might also like to have a word with your farrier about getting studs put in, as these can build your horse’s confidence, particularly on grass.
● The first exercise is to lift your seat out of the saddle in canter. If your leg comes off and he slows, you know you’re not using your legs enough. Then sit gently back in the saddle – if he shortens stride or stops, you’re sitting too heavily on the back of your seat and blocking the movement of his back. If he canters more freely with you standing up, then you’re not supple enough in your back when you sit to allow him to canter forwards.
● On a large circle, ask for bigger – not faster – strides for half a circle, then collect him back up again. This will help you develop a ‘second gear’ in your canter. Make sure you don’t collapse at the waist as this kills off impetus, but instead think ‘cantering seat bones’.
● Canter over a very small jump, asking for a collected canter before it and a bigger, more forward canter after it.
● Practise developing ‘gears’ in canter and trot, while on the lunge – you can use your voice as an aid.