Penn got a couple days off, then I decided to work on his flying changes. Since we aren't going to finals, I decided that means I can mess up his canter by really working on installing the flying changes and trying to make them clean. (and now we've hit the end of what I know and I'm simply guessing at his training)
|He's so handsome. I have very limited new media, so you're getting some repeats.|
I did a little experimenting on doing changes across the diagonal and that worked OK last Thursday. I found I had to make them short diagonals otherwise I lost too much quality in the canter and I got myself too wrapped up in prepping for the change and then Penn either didn't change and charged off, or he flipped up front and took a long time to follow through behind. We got several changes each way that were just 2-3 strides late behind, so I called it good. Penn was really trying and this is basically at my limit of knowledge. I did get a couple on video, but the video was very hard to make out- it was getting dark and the sun was just right so that video is basically black screen. However, thanks to the glamour effect on YouTube, I was able to salvage one of his better changes! It's still hard to see, sorry! He was two strides late behind in this change (I couldn't see it until I brought it up on an actual computer screen, sorry mobile users!)
Penn had another day off then went for a trail ride on Saturday. He was a gem of course and his mom forgot to take his picture. I left him with a sheet for Saturday night- the horses were going to spend the night out and it was going to be sub-50. I think he enjoyed the night out, he was very chill and very slow coming in for breakfast!
|Trying hard to make sure his changes don't end up like Mikey's :(|
I took Penn out to the outdoor on Sunday with a plan in mind- working on the counter canter and then the flying changes maybe. I remember reading a true canter/walk/counter canter/walk/true canter exercise on a circle on jenj's blog. I didn't do the haunches in and out part of the exercise, I just wasn't that interested in making it even more difficult for Penn (plus I couldn't get the canter-walks coming fast enough). I used it to develop straightness and the counter canter instead (which helped the canter-walk), and eventually Penn got very hoppy in the counter canter, so I asked for a flying change to the true canter, and Penn did a clean prompt change over! We were only 15-20 min into our ride, but I was like, that was good! Quitting time!
|Pretty canter picture.|
He's catching on to the changes SO QUICKLY. He is such a smart cookie. And they have yet to make him fussy in canter. I'm not drilling them (no more than a handful in a ride), and I try to change up the exercises of how I ask for them, so he's not anticipating (yet). I started my ride Sunday with shallow loops in canter, just to see what he would do. He was definitely on high alert, waiting for me, but I was careful with my leg and seat and asked for the loop instead and he was like, "OK, sure." He had zero trouble maintaining counter canter on the circle, in fact he was a little questioning... "Ok... you're saying something new... you want... the wrong lead? Are you sure? Ok... is this right? It is? OH GOOD!"
I haven't asked him to canter across a diagonal to pick up counter canter yet. I thought that might be a bit too confusing for him right now and might cause him some anxiety. I'm happy to ask for whichever lead I want from walk though - it makes him think about the two different leads and which I'm asking him to pick up. I can only see that helping the flying changes since all I'm doing is asking for the other lead.
The canter circle exercise really helped me get him straight for the change and get enough hop in the canter to make it a no fuss thing (but I fussed over him as soon as he did it). I certainly won't be asking him to change from true canter to counter canter- that's well beyond our skill level. But what I can do is work canter-walk-counter canter-walk-canter and toss in flying changes back to true canter every now and then. I just have to make sure I work the exercise both directions. Maybe we can turn it into a figure 8 when it's time to change directions so he can practice changing to the outside lead in a logical manner.
So blog land, toss your best flying change exercises at me! I need to keep switching it up! Keep in mind that I tend to overdo the rider part of it and have trouble just sitting quiet and making the change happen from my leg and seat (part of the reason a long approach on a diagonal may not be the best for us!).