How to Ride the Canter, Not the Distance

Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by Sally Spickard. Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by Sally Spickard.

The dreaded jumping distance. Some people seem to have a natural eye for it, others seem to close their eyes and hope for the best. What is it about finding the elusive perfect distance that trips so many of us up on a daily basis?

Practical Horseman recently published a great article that focuses on finding a quality canter rather than obsessing over finding the perfect distance. Author Scott Stewart uses hunter rounds as an example – hunters always seem to establish a floating rhythm that seems to just carry them around the course, the distances coming up naturally with little to no effort from the rider to “fix” the stride.

So how do you achieve the rhythm that creates a quality canter and, therefore, a quality distance? Eliminating erratic riding to the fences – pulling until you lose all impulsion or gunning it for the long spot – is a big step.

By taking away the fear or apprehension associated with finding distances, the rider can then focus instead on the rhythm which will help those distances come up more naturally.

Scott goes on to recommend three simple exercises to work on developing a feel for the canter rhythm and recommends working on them consistently and even using just ground poles to eliminate stress as well as wear and tear on your horse.

“With repetition, you’ll start to do the very thing I told you not to worry about – see a distance out of different strides. When that happens, it’ll raise your overall comfort level with rhythmically taking back to add, loosening up and coming forward to leave one out, and making it all look the same.”

There are numerous great suggestions and exercises contained within Scott’s article, which you can read in its entirety here. Working on establishing and feeling a canter rhythm is a common struggle among riders, but with practice and dedication perhaps we can all ride hunter-worthy rounds in the near future.

[Never Miss Another Distance!]

With repetition, you’ll start to do the very thing I told you not to worry about-see a distance out of different strides. When that happens, it’ll raise your overall comfort level with rhythmically taking back to add, loosening up and coming forward to leave one out, and making it all look the same. – See more at: http://practicalhorsemanmag.com/article/never-miss-another-jumping-distance-11617#sthash.9fdqG92Z.dpuf
  • Lengthening and shortening on the flat will get you focused on a consistent, rhythmic pace.
  • An alternating five-and six-stride line will get you thinking about what you need to do to adjust within the rhythm for your horse’s natural stride.
  • A simple little hunter course will give you the feel of sitting still and keeping a steady pace all the way around.

– See more at: http://practicalhorsemanmag.com/article/never-miss-another-jumping-distance-11617#sthash.9fdqG92Z.dpuf

  • Lengthening and shortening on the flat will get you focused on a consistent, rhythmic pace.
  • An alternating five-and six-stride line will get you thinking about what you need to do to adjust within the rhythm for your horse’s natural stride.
  • A simple little hunter course will give you the feel of sitting still and keeping a steady pace all the way around.

– See more at: http://practicalhorsemanmag.com/article/never-miss-another-jumping-distance-11617#sthash.9fdqG92Z.dpuf

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