Dressage - Horse Training Counter Canter
In counter canter the horse is asked to canter on the opposite canter lead to that of the direction that it is moving in.
Uses Of Riding Counter Canter
- Helps to improve the over all quality of the horses canter.
- Counter canter assists in helping the horse to engage behind.
- Counter canter also assists with the horses suppleness.
- Keeps the horse attentive to the riders aids.
Aims Of Counter Canter
- The horse has to remain in balance, rhythm and supple throughout the exercise.
- The horse should be bent in the same direction as the leading leg during the counter canter.
- The horse should still remain on the bit and attentive throughout the exercise.
Counter Canter Exercises
- To begin with you should only ask for a small amount of counter canter before riding your horse away onto the true canter lead or a downward transition, this will help ensure that balance, straightness and rhythm are maintain.
- An excellent exercise to begin with is to ride a shallow loop up one of the long sides of the school, the horses bend should remain in the direction of the leading canter lead throughout the loop. Start off with a shallow loop of around 2.5 m and then build up to 5 and then 10m. The counter canter part comes when the horse has left the corner and is on the curved part of the loop, by the corner you are then back moving in the direction and bend of the leading canter lead.
- Another good exercise to progress onto is to pick up working canter and ride a half 15m circle in one corner of the school and then return to the track maintaining the canter, on reaching the track you will now be in counter canter, maintain the bend of the true canter during the counter canter for a few strides before asking for a downward transition. If your horse manages the counter canter in rhythm and balance and remains straight between the riders leg and hand you can increase the amount of counter canter strides that you do eventually working your way around the corner.
- When you become more practiced you can ride circles, serpentines and figures of eight.
Faults During Counter Canter
- Quarters swinging occurs when the horse has not sufficiently engaged behind with its inside hind leg causing the quarters to swing. The rider needs to ensure that the correct aids have been used and that the horse is sufficiently being balanced and supported with the riders outside rein.
- Loss of straightness can occur if too much counter canter has been asked for, for the level of training that the horse is at and subsequently balance and rhythm have been lost, the rider will need to ask for a small amount of counter canter to ensure that the horse remains engaged, straight and balance and once achieved you can then gradually increase the amount of counter canter.
- Loss of bend during counter canter is due to the horse not sufficiently being wrapped around the riders inside leg and being sufficiently balanced into the outside rein. If the horse is stiff on one rein then more supplying work will be needed.
- Rushing is due to the horse losing their balance and rhythm. To help your horse you will need to work on improving the lateral work in canter to ensure that the horse is properly engaging the hindquarters whilst staying in balance and then progress to a few counter canter strides at a time.