Schooling Plans

Lesson Plan 7 Improving the Canter.

Level: Novice

Aim: To improve the canter by improving the lateral suppleness

Comment: Improving the canter is not necessarily done by simply cantering. Look at your building blocks to help improve your work.

1.Walk on a loose rein for at least 5 minutes.

This allows a nice relaxed time for the horse and rider to ease into the session. The rider should focus on relaxation, body alignment and thinking about the session to come.

2. Specific walk stretch, big walk and really draping him down whilst actively stepping forwards. Then have a period of specifically stretching the horse down. Especially in colder weather, but in general, it is not good to go into deep stretches straight away hence stage 1 above. Focus on activity without speed, drape and stretch and ease of going.

{Options: include canter stretch depending on level and balance of horse}

3. Walk leg yield head to wall:

Bring the horse, in medium walk, onto a 20m circle. Ride the circle accurately with activity, response to the aids and an elastic contact. Then flex the horse to the outside of the circle, keep the forehand on the 20m circle path and bring the hind quarters to the inner track. The purpose is to gain response to the outside aids, general suppleness and to achieve guidance to the outside hind leg {which is the first beat of canter}. Straighten to the circle path and refresh forwards. Repeat a couple of times. Go forwards to trot, ride large and change the rein, then walk and repeat in the other direction.

Have a break on a loose rein and see how the horse feels.

4. Leg yield with transitions:

Pick up the medium walk on a 20m circle again and ride forwards to trot. Then ride a transition from trot to walk, straight into some leg yield head to wall steps, straighten and move straight up into trot. Repeat a couple of times, change the rein and ride 3 repetitions on the other rein.

Then have another trot stretch to relax both horse and rider, mentally and physically.

5. Taking this theme to the trot:

Pick up your active working trot this time going large around the whole school. Then ride a series of 12m circles down the long side. In a 20m x 40m school ride 3 but in a 20m x 60m school ride 5 down the long side. On the next long side play with some trot leg yield head to wall steps, get a few good ones and then straighten and ride forwards and then as you get to the corner ask for the canter strike off onto a 20m circle. See how the canter feels and then spiral in to about a 15m circle and then leg yield back out to the 20m circle, repeat.

Have a walk break and then repeat in the other direction.


Depending on the fitness of your horse {never over exert the work; build gradually} you can then finish the session by riding working canter, trot for quarter of a circle then canter again, work the canter and then repeat the transitions. Paying due attention to the quality of the work. Repeat as usual in both directions.

Finish the session with a period of stretching down (warming down) in trot stretch. Walk the horse off and put away.