A good canter is essential for success while showjumping. The better your horse’s canter, the better he will jump. The following advice will help you to attain a good showjumping canter while you’re schooling and in the ring.
As a rider it is your responsibility to get your horse to the best possible take-off point in the best possible canter. You shouldn’t be tempted to shut down your horse’s canter so that you have more time to try and see a stride, as this often ends up with the rider firing the horse once they have seen their stride, and your horse will learn to rush and lose his jump or will just stop if you are on no stride. You will need to be strict on yourself to keep the canter big and in a good, even rhythm in order to achieve that sacred showjumping canter. Once you have the canter, more stride options will be available to you.
Quality of canter
You will need to work on being able to obtain a quality canter in a short space of time — this will come in useful once in the ring and in-between fences. Think of pumping your horse’s hocks underneath him. One exercise to help achieve this is to move the canter forwards and backwards for a few strides at a time, also incorporating circles. This will also help to teach your horse self-carriage — a quality canter is almost impossible to get unless your horse is carrying himself properly.
Use these teach your horse to be adjustable and forward thinking. Put two poles on the ground with four canter strides between them. Start by cantering over the poles in a steady rhythm on both reins. When your horse can do this comfortably managing four strides lengthen the canter and try for three strides. After that, try for more control and five strides. It’s important to adjust your canter way before you reach the poles, so set up your stride before you turn into the exercise. Apply the leg and soften your hand to ask your horse to lengthen being super careful not to let him rush. To shorten his stride, remember to always use your leg before your hand to ensure you maintain the impulsion from behind and self-carriage. If you don’t, his canter won’t be strong enough and he could break into trot when you ask him to shorten up or become very heavy in the hand.
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