How do I keep from bouncing up and down when I canter my horse (with a saddle)?

I have a western pleasure horse (and if you don't know what that means, it doesn't matter lol) and I am used to riding him bareback. When I cantered him bareback, bouncing up and down wasn't an issue, because I just got close to his back and let him fly, but now with our new saddle, I find myself bouncing up and down like crazy. Is this normal? Because when It happens, I find myself losing control and It doesn't feel right. What am I doing wrong and how can I fix it?

P.S. he is trained to go faster if you lean forward, so how do I canter without leaning forward and getting close to his neck? Thanks for your help!


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Leaning forward and getting up into half seat is how you "sit" the gallop. It is a completely different thing to sit the canter.

When you canter - lean back. Like enough to look stupid. This will make it easier to sit (puts all your weight down) and eventually you will learn the feeling enough to do it without looking like an idiot.

Make sure your heels are down and heavy.

Pretend like your legs are paralysed - they are very heavy and just hang down (heavily!) and move in time with the horses stride


Ride the horse, not the saddle. ; ) Seriously, your seat is probably better bareback. So think about what you do bareback that you are not doing in the saddle. Try rocking your weight back more, toward the back belt loop of your jeans; where your weight is further back onto your hips. Then if you keep your upper body vertical above that, you won't lean forward to miscue your horse. Finally, try riding in your saddle without using the stirrups (make sure your horse won't get too excited by this; you can tie a strap from one stirrup under the horse to the other stirrup to keep them down if needed). Practice using a saddle without stirrups a lot at the trot then do canters that way. You'll have the same problem you're having now, only much worse, if you do not keep your weight rocked far enough back into your seat. Find your seat without stirrups in that saddle and then when you do use your stirrups it should help.


You probably just need to find the "sweet spot". When you find it you probably won't bounce around as much. And some people just don't do well with certain saddles. I've had a saddle before that I hate.


riding bareback you are more able to grip, with a saddle you need to put your weight in your heels and remember not to grip with your knees as that will make you you bounce. sit back and deep in your seat.

you need to train him to go faster from leg aids, put your outside leg back and inside leg on the girth and squeeze, try in a circle with his head flexed to the inside. it may be easier to do it over a pole to make his transitions smoother. if at first you need to lean forward to get him to canter, practise doing this with the new aids, then gradually stop leaning forward. make the leg aids very clear and definate, with my old horse that i had to train to canter i would kick him with my outside leg that went back at the start of his training so he knew what i was asking


easiest way is to lean slightly back

and just relax down into the saddle

and physically feel yourself relax your back

this will allow your hips to move with the horse

(the horse will move your hips for you)

sit deep on your butt just like you would on

a couch or really comfy chair


what it sounds like is that you need to be on the same rhythm with your horse. Doesn't sound like you are doing that since you have that on bareback it should be relatively easy since you already know that feeling. I lean back in the canter (I get yelled at hehe) You need to try and keep your butt in the saddle rock your hips to your horse's beat. Some horses are easier to sit in the canter then others. I haven't seen your horse's canter so I can't say. Well that is all i can tell you without showing you.

Sorry! Happy Trails! Good Luck!


i had that same problem but then I kinda figured out my own way of doing it. What I do is I hold onto the horn (I ride western) with my left hand, but by still keeping the reins in my hands, and put my right hand hovering over the bump leading of of the horn. You want to sit up, not straight as a pencil but not hanging down either, but comfortably, how you would normally ride your horse but just lean forward a few inches. NOT down to his neck. Also remember to keep your toes up so you wouldnt fall out because I know that it IS bumpy. Hope I helped : Cya and good luck ---Heather


He needs to be in a shorter frame so that he comes off his forehand more. Do lots of up and down transitions and that will help you out a lot.

Something else that will help you is to canter without your stirrups.


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