How to Sit a Canter on a Horse


As horseback riders become more advanced, one of the skills they acquire is riding their horses at a canter. The smoothest pace on a horse, the canter is a three-beat gait that is slower than a gallop but faster than a trot. Children often learn to canter in the two-point position, because it is easier for them to be out of the saddle when going at a fast pace. Sitting the canter involves more than keeping your bottom in the saddle, and can be quite difficult. In order to learn more about how to perform this skill before actually experiencing it, read the following tips on how to sit the canter on a horse.

  • Riding the canter requires the rider to maintain good balance. Leaning too much to one side, or not knowing how to balance yourself while moving on the horse, can lead to a variety of problems. Some great ways to master balancing yourself on your horse are posting and sitting the trot without stirrups, riding bareback and riding in a two-point position.

  • Sit deep in the saddle. When you are ready to try the sitting canter, cue your horse and remain seated in the saddle as he canters. To avoid bouncing uncontrollably as the horse moves, lean back and scoot your backside forward toward the front of the saddle.

  • Grip with your backside to keep yourself securely planted in the saddle. As your horse continues to canter, you will probably tend to bounce around in the saddle. Squeezing your backside on the saddle will keep your seat strong and steady and restrain you from coming up out of the saddle. This works especially well for saddle seat riders.

  • To keep your seat strong and maintain control of the horse, grip the saddle with your thighs and your knees--never your ankles or calves. Squeeze your thighs from the top down to the horse’s sides as hard as you can. If you can see any space between your knee and the saddle, you are not gripping hard enough.

  • Push your heels down. In order to keep your legs and upper body in the saddle, point your heels toward the ground. The more you flex your heels down, the better your seat becomes and the easier it is to grip with your legs. This will also help you stay in the saddle and on the horse in case of any riding mishap. Keeping your heels down also makes it easier to kick your horse in order to guide him and and keep him going.

  • Roll with the horse. Instead of staying still as you canter the animal, move with his stride. Soften your wrists, bend your elbows into an obtuse angle and roll your hips to the rhythm of the canter. Riding in this manner will make the canter look better, as well as being more comfortable and effective for both you and your horse.

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