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Julie Goodnight’s Tips for Riding a Horse: How to Ride a Horse at the Canter

Free Guide from Top Trainer Julie Goodnight

Julie Goodnight's Tips for Riding a Horse: How to Ride a Horse at the CanterTop trainer/clinician Julie Goodnight showcases how you can ride your horse at the canter in this free guide. With clear, step-by-step photos, you'll gain valuable insights into a better ride with your horse next time while on the trail.

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Download your FREE guide from top trainer Julie Goodnight to help you tackle your fear of the canter and become a better rider.

MyHorse Daily Editor Amy Herdy

MyHorse Daily Editor Amy Herdy

Where did you learn how to ride a horse at the canter? Or do you canter your horse yet?

At the risk of sounding like a relic, when I first started riding horses as a kid in Kentucky, I rode with a cluster of other kids of various ages and sizes, and we didn’t do ground work. We made our way after school and on weekends to the horse park where we boarded our various horses and ponies in order to tack up as quickly as we could and raced out at a mad canter onto the infield of the track for a crazy game of pony tag.

One or two in the crowd had riding lessons from a local horse trainer to learn how to be a better rider, but the rest of us picked up tips on how to ride a horse from books, watching the grownups or each other. Or from hard knocks.

Julie Goodnight with horse Dually

Julie Goodnight with horse friend Dually. | Photo by Heidi Nyland Melocco

We were seemingly made of rubber back then. Like Tigger, we’d get thrown and bounce back up. I remember one afternoon my friend Jeannie turned to me from atop her tall blue roan mare (named appropriately, “Blue”), and said, “Hey, wanna help me teach Blue how to ride double?”

“Sure!” I replied, immediately climbing on behind Jeannie and the two of us taking off at a canter on Blue, who was not pleased with the arrangement and let us know by kicking up her heels enough to unseat us both.

We hit the ground, ping-ponged back up and onto Blue’s back, where we again set off at a canter, and again she promptly threw us off.

Other friends drew near and began shouting encouraging horse training and horse riding tips, like, “Grip harder with your legs!”

Knowing what I do now about natural horsemanship, I realize that our desperate clutching of poor Blue like a couple of mussels on the side of a ship only ramped up the mare’s anxiety.

And since we were more relentless than she was contrary, Blue eventually forgave our idiocy and agreed to carry both of us on her back, while we congratulated each other on our horse training skills.

Overcome Your Anxiety of the Canter

Julie Goodnight's Tips for Riding a HorseWould you like to know how to seamlessly cue the canter, and then how to ride a horse at the canter in a graceful way? Julie Goodnight's Tips for Riding a Horse: How to Ride a Horse at the Canter offers expert advice on how to relax in the saddle.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

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That same friend, Jeannie, was one I entered into a “Rescue Race” with. If you’ve never heard of a rescue race, here’s what it is: One person stands on the ground, while from several hundred yards away, a second person flies at them on horseback at a fast canter or gallop and attempts to snatch person A off the ground and fling them behind them onto the back of their horse (hence, the “rescue” part).

This is preferably not done at a walk, trot or canter, but at a full gallop. I look back on it now and I wonder why neither of us ended up in the emergency room.

It was actually preparing for the rescue race that prompted our horse training of Blue to learn to carry two people. Yet we soon figured out that Blue was not the right horse for the job-it turns out the sensitive mare wouldn’t even canter toward, let alone gallop at, a human, and she’d pull up short or just veer away, making the job of Person A impossible (and that was me, on the ground, while Jeannie rode).

So we moved on to my pony, Buck (yes, he was a buckskin). I learned a lot about how to ride a horse from Buck, a former barrel racer. He was fearless and fast, and had no problem moving beyond the canter toward anything. Since he was small and nimble, he could careen in close enough so that I could easily reach Jeannie’s outstretched hand (we switched her to being the ground person since Buck was my pony).

But that didn’t work, either. Jeannie was much taller than me, and I had trouble pulling her up and onto Buck. So we put our two horse training heads together and came up with the final option: Jeannie riding Buck and picking me up off the ground.

It worked like a charm. Evidently Buck was not bothered in the least by running pell-mell at his diminutive young owner, and I never doubted that he’d move over just in time to avoid trampling me but remain close enough for Jeannie to grab my outstretched arm and toss me on his back behind her.

We won the rescue race. Handily. We were horse-training heroes among our friends for weeks.

I eventually outgrew Buck and then just grew up; horses took a back burner to school, a job, a family. When I dipped my toe back into the water that is the world of horses (eventually falling all the way in) I discovered I no longer knew the language; terms like “natural horsemanship” and “ground work” meant nothing to me.

Learn How to Collect Your Horse at the Lope

Julie Goodnight's Tips for Riding a HorseCollecting your horse at the lope is more than just slowing him down, it involves rounding his back, lifting his shoulder and engaging his hindquarters. Learn how to properly collect your horse with the free guide Julie Goodnight's Tips for Riding a Horse: How to Ride a Horse at the Canter

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

Please provide your name and email address to download this free guide.

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Horse training had changed so much, and so had the horse trainers. “My way or the highway” tactics were now unpopular; horse training mentalities had morphed from Genghis Khan to Mahatma Gandhi.

Which was great by me, because inside, I’m still that 12-year-old girl who is totally in love with her horse. Mentally, that is. Physically, I’m now a 40-something-year-old woman who has had to learn all over again how to ride a horse the correct way.

In my quest of how to be a better rider, I have read enough books to fill a small library, watched DVDs and picked the brains of all my horsey friends for horse-riding tips.

And for the first time in 20 years, when on a horse’s back and faced with the prospect of picking up the pace to a canter, I felt fear. How foreign! How awful! How understandable!

My bones are no longer padded with Tigger-ish rubber. I’ve learned over the years that they actually break, and that when they do, it can take a really long time for them to heal.

Canter with Confidence

Julie Goodnight's Tips for Riding a HorseFix fears of loping and the canter departure; then learn how to cue your horse for collection with Julie Goodnight's Tips for Riding a Horse: How to Ride a Horse at the Canter

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

Please provide your name and email address to download this free guide.

All fields are required.

And what seemed so effortless when I was 12 was now hard work. Instead of easily sitting the canter, I now couldn’t find my rhythm. To my horror and chagrin, I actually bounced.

The good news is that I now had grown-up resourcefulness, and I tackled the issue of how to be a better rider the same way I burned through assignments from editors: research.

And that’s how I found Julie Goodnight. She is a horse trainer steeped in natural horsemanship; she delivers horse training advice and tips for riding a horse from that well of gentle and yet firm persuasion, and she does it in a non-critical, totally engaging way.

From watching her Horse Master with Julie Goodnight show on RFD-TV, and from visiting her website and watching her DVDs, it’s easy to see that Julie Goodnight is one of the more patient and understanding horse trainers around. Plus, she gives advice on how to be a better rider in a way that is easy to follow.

Whether you’re a rider coming back to horses after a long time away, an older rider who has just now discovered horses, someone who wants to improve their natural horsemanship skills or someone who’s always open to how to be a better rider, this free guide is for you. Enjoy. –Amy

Amy Herdy
Amy Herdy
MyHorse Daily Managing Editor

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