Landing on the Correct Canter Lead After a Fence

Landing on the Correct Canter Lead After a Fence

Landing on the Correct Canter Lead After a Fence

Landing on the Correct Canter Lead

What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-

  • Understand the influence of your weight on the approach
  • Learn how to ‘open a door’ for your horse
  • Begin shifting your weight over the fence
  • Effectively school on this to practice it

Are you struggling with your correct canter lead when landing from a fence? Perhaps you approach the fence on the one rein, however the track or exercise requires a change of rein after the fence.  You find that you often need to come back to trot in order to change lead.  Or perform a flying change.

In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast we focus on your correct canter lead on landing from a jump.  I will give you some practical tips you can implement the next time you ride. However, like all things in horse riding, it will take mindfulness and effort on your part.  But the results are well worth it.

Why the Correct Canter Lead on Landing is Important

Think back to the last time you were jumping.  If you could add up how many minutes you actually spend jumping and place that side by side with all the minutes spent in between the jumps…  So much of jumping depends on what you are doing on the ‘flat’ before and after (or in between) the jumps.

Now, obviously we first have to master actually getting over the fences.  Getting from A to B.  However, once we have that, our focus then really shifts to the part on the flat between the fences.  Having to continuously either transition to trot to change lead breaks the flow between your fences.

Therefore being able to ask your horse to land on a specific lead will help the overall flow of your jumping. 

Which leads to the question, ‘How do I tell my horses that I want him to change lead in the air over the fence?’.  Now, you can do this over a smaller jump, however there is often not enough time for you to get clarity on what you are trying to do. Which means they are asking in a way which is not very clear to the horse.

For this reason I suggest you work over fences that are around 60 to 70 cm (2 foot to 2 foot 6 inches).

Can you work over smaller fences?  Yes of course, you can apply this to working over a pole on the ground if you want.  However, I have found the riders gain more clarity – and have more time to make necessary adjustments initially – when the fences are a little more substantial.

Your Weight on the Approach

You must be very clear on where your weight is before the fence. If you are approaching the fence on the right canter lead, so your horse is leading to the right, you must be positioned correctly to reflect this.  Your inside seat bone and leg, in this case, your right seat bone, should be slightly more weighted.

Being mindful and specific about the details on approach will help both you and your horse notice when things change or shift.  It is the small, subtle changes that ask the horse to also make a change 

Your horse will do everything in his power to keep both of you upright.  Who wants to fall over, right?!  So it goes without saying that if and when you shift your weight, he will try shift as well to remain underneath you.

Often the rider is sitting incorrectly on the approach to the fence. This is why being very clear on what you are doing before the fence is so important.

It is worth repeating; jumping has very little to do with the actual jumping of the fence.  It is more to do with what is happening before and after the fence

‘Weighting’ is not Leaning or Tilting…

A word of warning; when I say that you must make sure that your weight is on the correct side, I do not mean that you must be leaning towards that side!

Leaning or tilting, particularly with your upper body will have the complete reverse effect.  Leaning to the inside is usually accompanied by a shifting of the seat to the outside of the saddle.  You definitely don’t want to happen!

Weighting it only means that you have a little bit more weight dropped into that inside seat bone and / or heel. In fact, it has more to do with your core than anywhere else in your body.

There are some links at the end of this post to other episodes and posts that go into more detail about weighting and how to do it correctly.

Opening a Door for Your Horse

Most horses seem to respond well when they feel like they have a ‘way to go’.  I call it a door. Very often you have to open a door to show your horse which way you want them to go. You can do this through your rein.

You can use a more open rein to show your horse which direction you want to take on landing.  Direction will determine ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, which in turn will dictate the choice of lead.

By using more of an open left rein, for example, he will begin realise that you will be tracking left on landing.  This allows him to perform a quick switch and land on the left lead from the jump.

Remaining Straight While ‘Opening a Door’…

The down side to doing it this way is that very often because you have opened that door, the shoulders tend to follow through the same space!   This results in losing your line.  I’m sure you know how important lines are when jumping!

For example, let’s say that you are on the right lead approaching the fence, and want your horse to track left on landing.  You can open your left rein as a way to indicate to your horse that you want to track left and therefore land on the left canter lead.

The potential is there that he can come off your line, veering slightly to the left. Now, for the most part, if you are indeed tracking left after the fence, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  You can correct him using your other aids.

However, if you are riding a related distance or a combination, veering off your line can have huge repercussions on the following jumps.  In those instances, you definitely want your horse to ‘stay the line’. 

Shifting Your Weight Over the Fence

We spoke earlier about weighting your inside seat bone. Where I suggest making this change or shift is as your horse is going over the fence.

This is a subtle, quiet shift.  It does not mean that you throw your body one way or the other. A shift in the weight can sometimes be made by simply turning your head

I am sure you have often it said often when riders are training how important it is to ‘look for the next fence’.   This is not only to be sure of where you are going, but also to make that subtle shift begin to happen.

When you and your horse are well ‘tuned in’ to each other, you won’t need to think about the shifts.  They will just happen, as though on autopilot

In order to make this happen, I suggest beginning to work on this in your very next ride.  You will find that, as you progress, it becomes automatic for you too. This allows you to focus your attention on other issues.

Refining Your ‘Subtle Shifts’

Initially think about just turning your head and looking in the direction you want to travel on landing.  You could even allow your shoulders to follow a little bit as well. You will often find that this is enough to affect the weight in the saddle.

Keep in mind that refining your aids all depends on how well you and your horse have been conversing or communicating with each other up to this point.

If you have been doing a lot of unnecessary ‘talking’ by overusing your aids, then your horse is probably not going to listen as well as you would like.

You begin refining your conversation by only speaking to your horse when you have something worthwhile to say. Meaning that you only apply your aids or ask for your horses attention when you have something worthwhile to add to the conversation

Schooling to Practice Landing on the Correct Canter Lead

Every time you are approaching a fence, pay attention to how you are ‘sitting’ and make any necessary corrections.  Have your inside seat bone and heel weighted a little.

Be clear on where you want to go afterwards.  In other words, have a clear line planned out in your mind’s eye.

When you are in the air, shift your weight slightly from the inside to the outside.  Said differently, swap your inside and your outside.  You can also open your inside hand a little.

Finally, make sure you are looking in the direction you want to go as you go over the fence. As you are in mid-air you should already be thinking about the next fence and plotting your line. This will make enough subtle shifts in your body for your horse to pick up on, and for him to make the change.

A Word of Caution

This goes without saying, but let’s just include it here anyway…  This episode and blog post is assuming that you have had all the necessary ‘checks’ performed on your horse.

Many riders struggle with canter leads due to problems with the horses back, legs, tack suitability or teeth to name just a few. 

Make sure that your horse is sound and that there are no underlying problems which are potentially hindering him, or making it uncomfortable for him to land on a correct lead.

Happy Riding


Links mentioned in the episode:-

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