Amelia Newcomb’s Top 3 Canter Exercises for Eventers

EN is pleased to partner with Amelia Newcomb Dressage for an exclusive training series, just in time for the off-season! Over the next few months, we’ll bring you regular training content from Amelia, whose “dressage for all” through online education makes learning accessible for more riders.

Amelia Newcomb is a USDF Gold medalist, a member of the prestigious USEF Dressage Development Program, and recipient of the Carol Lavell Prize from the Dressage Foundation. Based in Somis, CA, she incorporates complete dressage training from starting the young horse through the FEI levels.

Amelia works to develop a trusting and confident relationship between horse and rider. Her approach incorporates all aspects of horsemanship from basic groundwork to advanced dressage movements. The emphasis is always on the foundation with the basic trust, understanding, and relaxation for both horse and rider to create a harmonious partnership.

Amelia’s mantra has always been “Dressage for All,” which is evident in both her in person and online coaching. With a successful YouTube video library of hundreds of free educational videos, over 135,000 subscribers (and counting!), and thousands of students enrolled in her online USDF accredited courses, it is clear that Amelia has a passion for teaching and dressage. “I have been blessed with many great teachers in my career and I hope to help each and every one of my students develop a connection and solid relationship with their horses,” she says.

Learn more about Amelia on her website ( or discover her free educational videos on her YouTube channel, Amelia Newcomb Dressage. And now, we’ll hand it over to the woman herself:

Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Love to jump? If you are an eventer, then the answer is most likely: yes! If you love jumping then you know how important it is to work on the quality of the canter so that you can make your distance to each fence and get a nice, clean jump over the fence. And in this video, I will be going over three flatwork exercises to help you with just that!

Before we get into the video, I just wanted to give a big thank you to Eventing Nation for helping to make this video possible. Though I am mainly a Dressage rider, my mantra is Dressage for All, and I believe that Dressage can help riders and horses across all disciplines.

Flatwork is a great way to improve your canter quality so that you can get a better distance, and jump higher and cleaner. Riding on the flat may not be as fun as jumping, but it is worth it to spend time doing some flatwork each week. Here are three flatwork exercises to help you improve your canter quality. First, a video I produced exclusively for Eventing Nation to visualize what I’ll explain below:

The Snowman

This is a great exercise to get your horse supple and easier to turn, bend, and maneuver around the course. It also will help to get your horse rounder and using their hind end.

To ride the Snowman, start riding a 20-meter circle in one direction, then change direction at the centerline and ride a 10-meter circle. As soon as you get back to the centerline, change direction and bend and ask for canter, going back onto your 20-meter circle.

Repeat the pattern by changing direction and trotting on your 10-meter circle, then cantering on your 20-meter circle.

If you haven’t done the Snowman exercise before, check out this video where I go into more detail:

The 5 x 5 Exercise

This exercise helps you work on the adjustability of the canter stride so it is easier to make the distance to your fences.

First, pick up the canter and begin counting your strides. Start the exercise by closing your calf and riding forward for five strides, then, shorten your horse’s stride for five strides using half-halts. Repeat this pattern of riding forward for five strides, and then bringing your horse back for five strides.

When you ride forward, remember to follow your horse’s motion with your seat after you close your leg.

As you bring your horse back in the canter with your half-halts, remember to first sit up and back, tighten your abdominals, and then give a little squeeze, release, squeeze, release with your wrist.

Walk-Canter Transitions

Once you feel like your trot-canter transitions are fairly solid, you can start introducing walk-canter transitions. As a Dressage rider, I work on lots of walk-canter to help develop collection in my horses. Walk-canter transitions are a great exercise to engage your horse’s hind end and get them rounder so that you can get a clean jump over your fences.

When you are working on these transitions, really focus on getting a nice active, collected walk, then ask for canter. Your goal is to have your horse canter right out of the walk without any trot steps!

As you are working on these exercises, keep in mind that it is important to ride each of the exercises in both directions. I like to ride each pattern about three times before switching directions. This will help your horse become straighter and to correctly develop their body so that they can stay sound, healthy, and have long, successful careers.

Watch the video at the top of this article and give these three exercises a try, and I know that you will see a difference in your jumping! Even if you aren’t an eventer, these exercises are great for improving the canter and getting your horse more supple and round. Again, thank you to Eventing Nation for collaborating with me and making this video possible!

Happy Riding!

P.S. Want more help with your canter? Check out my FREE Canter PDF mini-course to help! Download the course here.

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