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"To prepare a horse to lope on a specific lead, or to influence a lead change, a rider must understand what to feel for and how to present what they want to the horse in a way that the horse can understand. To change leads real smooth without causing tightness in him, the horse needs to understand what he's expected to do with his feet, and when. He can't know this if the rider doesn't know where the horse's feet are, and how they operate in all the gaits."
"Many things determine the lead a horse chooses when he's on his own. The main concern he has is to adjust his balance to fit each situation he comes across. For the most part, a horse is going to pick the lead that will keep him balanced."
"A horse is not taught balance at the canter by cantering for a long time, but rather by doing frequent strike offs from the walk and from the halt.
"In spite of those who say that the canter shuld always be in three beats time, it is only possible to do pirouettes and the canter in place while cantering in four beats time."
"Freely moving hip joints are, in fact, the key to sitting correctly to the canter."
"Knees that are pinched against the saddle prevent the sliding, making the horses feel resistance, which in turn reduces the roundness of the canter."
"He [Ted Zajac] explains, '...The horse who does barrels has to be able to extend the canter and come back quietly and sensibly just like the dressage horse.'"
"You should ask for the canter only after he has been working correctly at the walk, and especially trot, for a number of weeks."
"If there is the least bit of difficulty with the canter, it is always a sign that he has been asked too soon."
"It is a practiced rule by all the skilled masters that a horse must not be cantered until he has been suppled at the trot, so that he brings himself forward at the canter without leaning or pulling on the hand."
"Another fault that most riders have is that, in the beginning, they do not apply themselves at all to feeling their canter, which is nevertheless essential."
"Any rider who does not feel the horse's canter can never pass as a horseman."
"The canter and canter transitions work the lumbar-sacral area between the saddle and the horse's pelvis in ways no other gait or transition quite manages."
"...if you want to stretch the left side of the horse's back, good quality canter work on the right lead is one of several tools to get you there."
"A correct counter-canter is a great way to develop the forward reach of the hind leg on the leading side."
"Cross-cantering can be a sign of back stiffness, or at least that the horse's spine has not adopted the same curvature throughout its length for a few strides."
"If a horse cross-canters more under saddle than they do at liberty, something is wrong with the work under saddle. If they cross-canter more when changing from one lead to the other, that also points to some asymmetry in horse or rider."
"An efficiently galloping or cantering horse lets the gait's rocking action assist their breathing."
"...talking about aiding our horse to canter...with the idea of assisting the horse to do so reveals an approach that is quite different than signaling our horse to canter."
"From the energetic, rhythmic, relaxed trot comes the ability to canter easily."
"If the horse is properly bent on the circle at the time he takes the canter, he will take the proper lead."
"If he takes the wrong lead, quietly ask for the trot and try again...."
"If he goes disunited, you have probably asked at an awkward moment."
"When first riding the canter, you should take the forward position to give the horse as much freedom as possible to use his back."
"...you ask for the canter on the next sit-stride by stretching your inside leg down as you push more with your inside seatbone and soften your hands."
"If the horse takes the wrong lead, you probably dropped contact and let him unbend. Keep him bent but do not over-bend him with your efforts. The bend is to the left for a left lead and to the right for a right lead."
"Flex him to the right for a right lead and to the left for a left lead."
"If you are always definite and consistent with your canter aids, first on the circle and then in corners, the horse will learn to take the proper lead on the same aids when going straight."
"When the canter is long, rhythmic and relaxed and the transitions are smooth, you can begin doing canter-trot transitions to start the horse's balancing toward the rear."