White andalusian cantoring while rider sticks garrocha at center of circle

The Canter

How do you cue for the canter? Well, you lean forward and kick hard, right? At least that’s what I thought when I was fourteen. Then my mentor pointed out something. He said that if I would move my outside leg back and kick near the end of the rib cage, the horse would take the correct lead. Who said anything about leads? So now I’ve got a complication, but also a tool to work with. I spent ten years kicking horses into leads. Then one day a very dear mentor told me to “Sit dowwwn, Glenn”. I discovered I’ve been standing in my stirrups. Moreover she pointed out that I had seat bones. (Imagine that!)  I learned to sit down, not on my fleshly butt, but on my seat bones, as if I were still standing,  but not putting weight in the stirrups. The next mentor said that depending  on which lead I wanted, to sit on only that seat bone. Oh and by the way, it’s okay to have that outside leg back there, but not kicking. That outside leg helps to bring the horses hindquarters in, so that you take the correct lead with the hind leg of the horse as well as with his foreleg.

Finally I got the Beach ball concept from yet another mentor. If I lean forward the beach ball went backward. So if I wanted a horse to go forward I’d best lean back, but only a little. Now, thirty years later I sit on the inside seat bone and lift a horse into the canter with inside leg at the girth, keeping my outside leg back a little to maintain straightness. Only now can I begin to climb the mountain of flying lead changes!

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