Readers Write: Counter Canter

Riding Questions

“What is a counter canter and how do you do it?” —
KD’s Gorgeous

“A counter canter is deliberately asking for the opposite lead from the direction of track, ie: track left on the right lead, etc. It requires the horse to be very balanced and in frame to be done correctly (just moving along on the incorrect lead all strung out and rough is not a counter canter) If your horse is well schooled and fit you should be able to ask him for this exercise. ” — Grizzles

“Exercises to begin getting counter canter range from the simple change ofbend on long lines – going down the long side of arena, bend away from the wall, creating “counter bend” to the wall… and you can then do canter circle, go across diagonal, becoming “counter lead” and go round end, back across diagonal into “correct” lead. The goal for the exercise is to keep the bend and correct movement of the canter – not strung out, as previous poster suggested. It is fun to see a horse develop with the work – but remember, this is going to be difficult for some horses, as they are required to be bending against the direction they are travelling.. . but it will help establish the flying changes if you do it correctly, and avoid stressing horse or yourself…. your position needs to be secure, and independent, fluid and following. The horse can’t be rigid or tense to do this correctly. ” — Karice

“The best way to start teaching your horse to balance in counter canter is to pick up the correct lead and canter round your arena. Then, on the long side, do a shallow loop into the quarter line and back out to the track, while maintaining the same lead. As he arcs away from the track and back to it, he will be in counter canter. As he improves, you can make the arc deeper, into the middle of the arena. Another exercise is to canter a large figure eight, maintaining the same lead throughout (no flying or simple change in the center) If he’s used to switching leading, be very positive about maintaining leg position for the lead you want him to stay on. If he gets strung out or disunited bring him back to trot and re-group before trying again. ” — ab-horses

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