Dressage Training-Are You Using the Wrong Aid for a Canter Depart?

One of my newsletter readers emailed me and asked:

Hi Jane
I'm confused about the aid for the canter.
I know to ask for the canter it is outside
leg behind the girth and inside at the girth,
however during the canter is your outside leg
supposed to stay back or do both legs then
become neutral at the girth once the canter
is achieved?

Here's what I had to say to her:
Swing your outside leg back ONCE,
and then bring it back to it's normal
position on the girth. Think of it as
a spring-loaded action or a windshield-wiper
like action. If you wait for your horse to
answer, he's not listening to your leg aid.
If he doesn't canter right away,
give him a little bump with your outside leg
or tap him with the whip. (Carry your whip
in the outside hand for the canter work
so you can use it to reinforce your outside leg aid.)
As soon as he does the canter depart, reward him.

You can teach him to canter by holding
your outside leg back, but when you get
to the point of doing half passes in the trot,
your horse will be confused. He won't know
whether to stay in the trot and go sideways
for a half pass or to pick up the canter.
It's easier to teach him to canter from an
aid that ONLY means canter depart than to teach
him to canter from that aid and then have
to reschool him when you get to trot half passes.
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