Struggling to get the correct canter lead and finding yourself in a pickle? It’s not uncommon for riders to struggle to get the correct canter lead. Here are my tips for improving your chances!

Forward Thinking Without Rushing

When riding a canter transition from the trot, ensure that your horse travels forward in a good rhythm to your outside rein. It is important that your horse is in front of your leg and that you are not asking for every trot step of the way with your heels. You should be able to have a lower leg (between knee and ankle) that works in the rhythm of the trot with a heel down and resting, not nagging your horse’s sides.

Prepare For The Correct Canter Lead

Before asking for the canter transition, practice giving your inside rein away. If the horse does not change his balance or neck and head carriage, then he is well connected to your outside rein and is not blocking or falling onto your inside rein. Half halt for preparation (remember this is catching the energy you are creating, not slowing the horse down) and give a clear signal with your inside leg on the girth and the outside leg slightly behind. 

Give Firm & Clear Aids

If on the left rein, make it clear with your left heel for the transition. Your right leg should just be supportive and not too heavy. We are always aiming for the horse to listen from as light a signal as possible. Sometimes you may need to be a bit firmer for the horse to get the message. In these cases, always make sure you then repeat the transition with a lighter signal again and praise the horse when he responds.

Keep The Balance

Try to avoid tipping forward when asking for your canter transition, as this can upset the horse’s balance. Keep sitting up tall from the crown of your head, and remember not to throw away your outside rein. If your horse is weak or young, try making it easier for them by riding large around the arena and asking for your transitions in the corners.

If It Goes Wrong

If your horse picks up the wrong canter lead, quietly bring them back into a trot, re-balance the trot and ask again. Remember to praise your horse every time they do something correctly and give them plenty of walk breaks to rest the body and mind. 

Feeling Inspired? Read My Article On The Great Outsider; The Art Of The Outside Rein.