Tuesday 10 November 2015

Canter Trot Canter

So, these days we can canter off immediately when asked, in a fairly balanced transition. We have leads. Walk to canter transitions are reliable enough to be a thing now too. We can (mostly) steer, and pony usually responds when I ask her to move her body around within the canter.

What we're missing is the ability to adjust the canter. One stride currently fits all and things gradually deteriorate to uncoordinated rushing over the course of a few 20 m circles. A common approach to working on that is to ask for a trot transition just before things unravel. As I'm sure I've mentioned, Midge is a very smart and lazy pony, so she figured out super quickly that general flailing around and giving up leads to trotting. Trotting is her happy place, so she will happily bounce off walls and stumble around, then be like "OK, trot?Trot now? How about NOW?*collision course with jump standard* Surely now we trot?" In other words, another approach was needed. Tonight , a slight variation: canter a few strides, then transition to trot but get as few trot strides as possible before cantering again. All on about a 15m circle, insisting on proper bend and quality transitions up and down. The idea of all this being we decrease to 1 stride of trot, then finally think "trot" but keep cantering, and viola, a half halt in the canter is installed. (We could do this on the straight, but again Midge would brace and use it against me/go into runaway pony train mode so the circle, while more difficult to coordinate, is my friend.)

As a rider, this was a simple concept but in practice was the most ridiculously difficult thing. Keeping wayward pony on a circle, on the aids AND doing accurate transitions? I've never felt so uncoordinated in my life. By some magic, to the right we accomplished a consistent 4-6 strides of canter alternating with 1 of trot, and then the theory proved correct, because by half halting and thinking trot for a second we had a legit half halt installed and rebalanced canter activated. Love it!

The left just about fried my brain (what? now I have to weight the other seat bone and use the other outside rein?!!?) and I never did feel as coordinated there, but it is Bridget's easier side and we got it done. 

I'm excited about this exercise - it's difficult for me, but it really works and it's pretty simple. Our transitions were becoming better, and Bridget was really on the aids and focused. It also exposed some (more, lol) position issues on my part...funny how your quirks become very obvious/exaggerated when you feel rushed, as I did when trying to coordinate my body to ask for a correct canter depart with so little prep time. My little cheats became very apparent :)

Even more non excellent photos coming tomorrow :)
Next lesson: Wednesday
Next "event": Visit and mini clinic with Ginger and Trainer M, November 16.


  1. Before I even got the part where you said it was ridiculously difficult I was thinking, "this exercise sounds simple and is likely akin to circle of death"

    1. Yes! exactly like the circle of death, "just" adding a transition up and down in place of a jump. At least I escaped the no stirrups November thing for another day?

  2. Woohoo. Glad you figured out a way to outsmart your mare! I have a hard time outsmarting mine. My brain will typically scramble to figure something out then just calls it quits lol.

  3. You guys look amazing and Bridget is looking like such a fit grown up pony!

    I agree completely that my position/technique falls apart when I'm feeling rushed.

  4. ugh i did something similar in a recent lesson and... ugh hard!!! so much coordination! seems perfect for Midget pony tho :D