All horses (and all riders for that matter) are crooked. Horses’ hips are wider than their shoulders so when they are traveling down the rail it will give the appearance that they are in haunches-in. The big problem is that when they travel in haunches-in it puts them on the forehand and they don’t engage their inside hind leg.
Most horses have more trouble on the right lead canter and tend to lean into the right. The horse will counter-bend, look to the outside, and fall to the inside. Is this your horse?
It is difficult to fix the straightness in the canter itself because often horses loose their balance or try to make a flying change. Often it is best to go back to the walk or the trot and get the horse straighter, then go back to the canter.
Here are some exercises to help fix a crooked canter:
- Baby leg-yield at the canter – go up the quarter line and make a very gradual leg yield off of the inside leg and over to the rail. Be sure to keep your inside leg at the girth and stay sitting on the inside seat bone. Don’t make it too steep – it’s pretty gradual.
- Counter canter – this is another great exercise to improve the straightness at the canter. If you can do the counter canter along the rail, the rail itself will keep the horse straight.
- Rider Position – be sure to sit on your inside seat bone! Many riders end up sitting to the outside, particularly when the horse gets crooked! Instead, it is very important to focus on keeping your weight to the inside seat bone!
- Keep going back to basics – get the horse more in front of the leg and more supple and this will help to improve the straightness at the canter.
It is REALLY HARD to fix a crooked canter. But keep working on getting your horse more supple, through, and forward and with time it can and will get better!!!