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by Downunder Horsemanship

Training Tip: Canter With Confidence: Get Experienced Help

It takes consistent practice to get comfortable riding your horse and gain confidence in the saddle. However, it’s important you’re paired with the right horse, meaning the horse is well-trained and wants to help you learn. This tip in our cantering with confidence series is all about not being afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Tip #6: Have an experienced horseman canter the horse.

If you’re not confident about your horse, have someone else canter him for a few days before you get on him. Just as you need to practice cantering, your horse needs to be able to practice it too. It’s not fair to expect him to canter quietly in a relaxed manner if he’s never been allowed to settle into the gait. Having an experienced horseman canter your horse will allow you to make sure everything goes right and that all of the spookiness and jumpiness is out of your horse before you get on.

We do that at clinics for people all the time. When I ask participants in clinics to canter their horses, I can tell within the first five strides which horses have been cantered a lot and which ones have barely been asked to canter. My clinicians will hop in the saddle and put some steady cantering miles under the horses’ feet for participants who’d like help. Initially, the horses zigzag all over the arena. They speed up. They slow down. They’re all over the place. With practice, they settle into a steady pace and develop cadence. Then we have the owners get back on the horses, and practice cantering.

Read the previous tips in this series: Tip #1: Use Correctly Fitted Tack, Tip #2: Sit in the Saddle Correctly, Tip #3: Practice With the Right Horse, and Tip #4: Practice Posting to the Trot, and #5: Practice One Rein Stops.