"No matter how hard I try I just can’t sit in canter! Any ideas?”
This is a brilliant question. I often get asked this so rest assured you’re
not on your own. The first thing I’d suggest is you stop thinking too hard about it because the more you do the worse
it will get!
If you’re new to canter don’t panic. It can take months to relax enough to be able to sit into the saddle.
All riders are different and some find it easier than others but don’t worry about it. One day it will just click and
you’ll wonder why you were ever bothered about it. Until then just practise getting into canter and keeping going.
One really common cause of not sitting correctly is tension. That can start anywhere in your body but you can guarantee
it will end up in your lower back and seat. The tighter your seat the harder it is for you to relax and sit into the saddle.
One top tip! Instead of thinking "relax my seat"
look at both ends of your body.
your horse strong or tense? Are you gripping onto your reins because you think he’s rushing or about to tank off? That
tightness can flow right back up your arm to your shoulders. From there it goes straight down your back to your seat.
”Heels down” is a classic seat-stiffener! Don't
force them down – you’ll only push your lower leg forward and tighten your whole leg. If your leg is stuck forward
and rigid your seat will tighten up and slide back in the saddle.
Practise going large in sitting trot and focus on keeping your weight on your whole seat
- and most importantly even on both sides as you ride the corners. Slipping to the outside or leaning in won't help you sit
well in the saddle. Do it in trot first and you'll feel what you're probably doing in canter.
Pay a lot of attention to the distance between your bottom
rib and the top of your hip on both sides. It should be the same. If you collapse to one side your seat will shift and you'll
find it impossible to stay relaxed in the saddle.
Make sure when you do turn corners or you're on a circle you turn your whole body to the inside. Do that and
you'll stay in line with your horse. When you're both turning together like that you'll find it easier to 'sit in'.
when you want to sit down you need to think up.
That’s sit up, look up and hands up! Those three things put your weight straight down on your seat and that will help
to anchor you to your saddle.
are a couple of posts on the blog that deal with the way you sit in the saddle. This first one is more about your weight in
the saddle and how exactly to position yourself on all points of your seat -
This next one you might find even more
useful because it has a great affect on your whole body and can really make a difference to the way you sit in canter - and
the way your horse goes. If you concentrate on pulling up through your body you'll start to take control of your weight. When
you're carrying yourself in that way your whole weight falls straight down on the saddle, rather than falling forward over
your horse's shoulders or off to one side. It's a little thing but it can have a massive affect on your horse. I find it really
helps with horses that hollow or those that are less inclined to go forward. (some would say lazy!)
For great progressive exercises to keep you and your horse busy this winter check out
one of the schooling guides in The Shop. At 99p they’re affordable and they’ll give you something to focus on
between lessons. Check them out here -http://www.schoolyourhorse.com/#!/shop/