As you have certainly learned with your instructor, the canter leg aids are, for instance if you are asking for the left lead: the left leg on the girth and the right leg slightly behind the girth. A little trick is to teach your horse to always start on the left lead with a slight flexion to the left.
To begin with, I focus on warming-up the horse by doing a lot of transitions so that he is very responsive to my aids. And by making sure he’s obviously very straight.
You can start with trot – walk – trot transitions to check the response to the aids (particularly to the legs). Your horse needs to respond immediately when you apply your legs. For the canter depart, your horse has to stay well rounded into the bit.
Sometimes, when you ask for a canter depart, the horse might open (come out of the bit). Or he might run for two or three strides in the trot before going into canter. If that happens, I bring him back and ask again. If I don’t find him responsive enough to my aids, I’ll do some trot transitions again: trot – walk – trot, because it’s easier for him. The important thing is to encourage his responsiveness.
To start cantering from the walk, it is the same as from the trot. It’s down to you now !
A useful exercise to check the straightness of the canter depart consists of using a corridor of ground poles to channel your horse. You need to start with a walk that is active, attentive and balanced. Remember to straighten your horse. Make sure he’s well rounded on the bit. If his shoulders drift to the left, use a left neck rein to correct it. Of course, once you are happy with the canter depart on one lead, move on to the other lead.
Do you have difficulties with your canter transitions ? Did you enjoy reading this email ? Leave me a comment here. See you soon !