Improving your canter

Part one of Sonya’s showjumping series starts with the foundation of all showjumper’s success – a quality canter.

In the video below Sonya explains her motivation for performing the following exercises, what she hopes to improve and why these particular exercises will help both horse and rider. By taking it back to basics and working on the quality of the canter, this helps the horse to maintain a natural rhythm, teaches the horse to see its own stride and prevents the rider from ‘over-riding’ between fences.

A breakdown of the two exercises

Exercise 1 – Adjusting the stride over canter poles

This exercise is a great starting point for those looking to improve rhythm and striding. Start by placing three poles down the side of your arena on a true four stride distance. Come down in canter over the poles and ride four strides between each pole, then come down and ride five strides between each pole. Next comes the slightly trickier part, ride the first part on five strides then after the middle pole adjust to four strides between the second and third pole. Then try it the other way round, ride four strides between the first and second pole, sit up and shorten the stride to five between the second and third pole.

Exercise 2 – Letting the horse adjust his own stride over a double

Set up a double with two strides between each. Come round the corner to the jump in walk and make a sharp upwards transition into canter as you approach your line to the fence. Leave the horse to find his own stride – which is a lot harder than it sounds. Once you and your horse are comfortable with this exercise, add in some V-poles to help with straightness and improve technique over the fence.

Both of the above exercises are demonstrated by Sonya in her video, to find out more about Sonya as well as reading more of her expert advice and articles, visit her expert profile.

Improving your canter

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