• Clare Long

Swapping or Holding the Canter Lead Behind & Preparing for Your Horse's Canter Under Saddle

(From the archives: Clarity Dressage original YouTube Channel: Posted 2/15/2015)


Featuring "Essie"

6 year old, 14.2hh, Rabicano Straight Egyptian mare


(Wording from video):

This is a wonderful mare, very very trainable, lovely temperament. She had no problem with getting used to the saddle. There was no bucking, crow hopping or plunging, it was fantastic. She really took to the tack like a fish to water, like a horse that had already had that tack training, and she hadn't. Obviously she has a spectacular trot, trots like a Giselle, I call that a Giselle trot. The canter, is awkward, obviously, and very weak behind, but you saw, to the left, that she was already being able to hold onto that lead behind, and it has only been a few weeks.


To the right, that swapping behind every stride, or mostly every stride: that's going to take a little while to work through. She will get stronger, she'll get more supple, she will especially get stronger in her loin area, the area between her back and the top of her booty,

which is called the croup. That will really help her to hold onto that lead behind. Once she can hold that lead behind in the canter right, one or two times around in the round pen, I would recommend that we started canter work under saddle.


But again, she's never been ridden, so it's probably going to be 3 months before we start cantering her under saddle anyway, unless she just comes along like gangbusters.

***Helpful Hint***

That is also something that is very important when you are riding your horse. If your horse cannot hold his or her lead behind for a circle or two when they are cantering in the round pen, then they are not ready for you to ride in the canter. If they don't have the strength or the suppleness to canter without a rider, than they certainly do not have the strength or the suppleness

or the ability to canter with a rider.

So, if you are struggling with your horse's canter under saddle,

check out what the canter is like in the round pen, or on the lunge line. If they can not hold onto that lead behind,

then they are not ready to canter under saddle. Usually it is only about a month of schooling and suppling work in the round pen, before they are able to hold onto that lead, and then you can start the canter work under saddle.


For Example:

I used Thunder as my model from my grooming videos. Thunder had no ability to hold onto his lead behind in the canter, and it was only about 3 or 4 weeks before he could hold it for a circle or so in the round pen, and then he started being able to hold it for short periods of time in the canter under saddle. Now he can hold it under saddle nicely a time or two around the actual arena under saddle.


So, you just have to be really patient, and they can do it, it just takes time and strength, suppleness and coordination.


I hope this was a helpful segment, thank you

Essie for being our beautiful model, and we'll talk to you soon. Happy horses!