Featured post

4 Exercises to Help Calm a Hot Horse

If there is anyone that can talk about hot horses on a hack, it is me.  My horse Shandy was a complete nightmare on hacks.  He would attem...

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

All 3 Ways to Ask Your Horse For Canter

Yes, the canter transition.  You learn pretty early on that to ask for a canter, you must go into sitting trot and move the outside leg to behind the girth.  

No.  There are THREE different ways to ask a horse for a canter and they all depend on how where the horse is trained!  

Green Horse (Outside lateral Aids)

Green horses struggle with picking up the correct canter lead and staying balanced in the transition.  It's pretty common for a green horse to rush into the canter and if you were like me, I kind of just let it happen.  I had no idea you could stop the rushing before it even happened!  


To set this up you should first switch your trot diagonals so you are on the wrong diagonal a few trot strides before you are going to ask for canter.  Then you will ask for the canter with the aids below.  

  • Increase your weight on the inside seat bone
  • Outside leg goes behind the girth 
  • Inside leg at the girth 
  • Inside rein 'gives' 
  • The outside direct rein of opposition 

Why it Helps

When you change your trotting diagonal, it causes the horse's inside legs to reach further forwards than outside legs.  

This way of asking a green horse to canter causes his balance to be disturbed so that he needs to pick up the right lead.  

Your outside leg is moved behind the girth which causes the horse's haunches to move to the inside.  This means the horse's inside front leg is the most 'free' which means he will pick up the canter on this leg by default.  

The rein aid is used to impede the horse's outside shoulder which 'frees' the inside.  

A Bay Show Horse Being Ridden At Extended Canter in a Riding School



Medium Trained Horse (Inside Diagonal Aids)

Now that your horse has had more practice at transitions, is higher up on the training scale and is picking up the correct canter lead consistently, you can move on.  This is canter aid is a middle step between the green horse and advanced horse transition.  


  • More weight on the outside seat bone
  • Outside leg behind the girth 
  • Inside indirect rein of opposition in front of the withers

Why it helps

Again, your aids cause the horse to be caught off balance in a way that he has to pick up the correct canter.  Your weight is shifted to the outside which causes the horse to slow his outside legs which stops the horse from rushing.  

The rein aid is used to impede the horse's outside shoulder which gives more freedom to the inside.  

BUT the rein aid is moved to the inside.  Even though the aid still acts the same, it is getting the horse ready for the next step, which is a rein aid on the inside. 

A female wearing a blue show jacket riding a dapple grey horse around a show jump at a horse show

Advanced Horse (Inside lateral Aids)

This canter aid is for the advanced horse who has completed the training scale.  You need a very well balanced and engaged horse to be successful.   


  • More weight on the outside seat bone
  • Inside leg slides forwards 
  • Inside indirect rein of opposition in front of the withers 
Once the horse understands these aids correctly, you can remove the inside leg aid.  This then means that you will be using only the inside rein aid to ask for the lead you want.  

Why it helps

Moving your inside leg forwards makes you lean back which stabilizes the horse's pace.  Your outside seat bone and leg both increases the weight to the outside which slows the horse's outside legs.  

The rein aids 'frees' the inside shoulder which makes it easier for the horse to pick up that lead.  

Your leg sliding forwards encourages the horse further to pick up the correct lead.  This is only to transition your horse from the medium level canter transition to the advanced level.  After this, your horse should be taught to pick up the lead depending on which hand aid you use.  

A completely advanced horse will pick up the lead you choose.  You will do a rein aid by slightly rotating your wrist (indirect rein of opposition in front of the withers).  

A rider galloping their black horse on a cross country course.


I am not a horse trainer or any other equestrian professional.  I only give advice on horsey topics that I have experience as a horse owner in.  Please don't follow my advice without contacting a relevant equestrian professional.  


No comments:

Post a Comment