Tuesday, June 20, 2017

5/26/2017 Lesson Day 1: Focus on Canter-Walk

M and I ventured back to GP Trainer's barn many weeks ago (and I'm finally editing the video and writing it up!). GP Trainer and I caught up really quickly on what my next outing was and at what level (Loch Moy, 1-3 and 2-2), and then off we went.

Hi Utonia! (this pic is actually from the ride home, whatever, lol). Had to borrow BO's trailer again for this trip- mine was having its breaks completely rewired as part of its emergency tune up.

In warm up, I touched on all the things, but the canter-walk-canter on the diagonal was no good. She said to put a pin in that, we'll revisit it after she sees the rest of his work. One item that sticks out in my mind for the warm up- the shallow loops in canter on the right lead- Penn wants to swing his hips right really badly. I have to keep my right leg on throughout the section near X to really keep them in line. (that was one of my first reminders this weekend that the outside leg has a purpose, doh) At this point, we turned on GP Trainer's Pixio, and I have video from here on out!

The first exercise we did was a 20m circle, with 10m circles at each point.

The entire idea was to slow down the canter, just one beat per minute slower, and collect it from seat and not hand. We did four 10m circles to collect the canter, then asked for a canter-walk transition in the 5th circle. I had to actively not brace in my irons. I needed to sit up, lift my feet ever so slightly (can't brace when they're light in the irons), then ask for the walk. It was super difficult to reprogram myself- sit up and walk instead of sit up-brace-walk. I was still bracing in the very last step.

Next we looked at the canter work from 2-2.

The first two swings through the counter canter/tear drops/simple changes were good- he stayed relatively balanced and the simple changes were significantly better than in warm up and previous lessons. She wanted to see the left lead work again. He just struggles with the strength to hold it, and I struggled to find the right seat to keep it. It's all about sitting back on that right hind and sitting up and not bracing on my irons, haha.

Some notes for me:
  • Treat the last quarter of counter canter like your last quarter of the 10m circle- collect and sit and prepare.
  • Release the walk, don't pull him into it.
  • Sit on right hip in left lead counter canter.

The last bit of canter we attacked was medium into a 10m circle to the walk. I'm not sure if this was her original plan, but it became the plan after he basically ran away and got wiggly in the "medium" canter.

She got after me to:
  • Let go with my hands. Especially let go of the left rein (when tracking left) and stop him with the outside rein.
  • Let go of the reins in the 10m circle.
  • Tracking left: Use the stick on the inside hip within the canter rhythm as I collect him into the 10m circle to remind him to keep coming with his left hind. It's not enough to make him run out of the collection though; it's just a simple reminder. Obviously I can use it on the inside hip right too.

GP Trainer caught me leg yielding out to try and get his attention back as we tried to go back to work to do the left side again. She said no leg yielding out- it's not enough to get and keep his attention and he's just falling to the outside. If I'm going to do anything, bump him with my inside leg to outside rein, but put the outside leg on to catch it right away and stand him up. Don't change the line we're on, but give him something small to do. The leg yield is too slow.

The trot work was just lovely... when I wasn't dragging him onto 10 million tracks in the lateral stuff, haha. We touched on the trot pattern for 2-2, and it was really nice, just minor tweaks to it, and a reminder to not pull the left rein in the left SI- I pull him off balance, out of "frame", and then have too much neck bend. I have to be very very careful to ask for the SI left very gently- it is very easy to whip it off the 3 track and onto a million tracks. I'm not bothering to upload or edit it- it was balanced, rhythmical, and soft. The video would end up being 5-6 min anyway, and I don't know who is going to sit through all of that!

The biggest takeaways for this lesson? When I brace in my irons, he braces back, and that's really what causes the canter-walks to fail because it allows him to disengage his hind end. Everything in the canter deteriorates when I brace on my irons. I needed to get my leg out in front of me before because he was diving down in the canter, but now I need it under me and working, not bracing.

The kids got turnout for the overnight! They were in grass comas in the morning. Not that we don't have grass at home- it's just not as thick and luscious and yard-like at home!

My failures in this lesson definitely shaped our second lesson of the visit, and started my current focus of counting strides!


  1. Man...reprogramming yourself to not brace sounds incredibly tricky! I found my own body visualizing along with your writing and daaanng. Not simple for sure.

    1. It's so hard, I have to put 100% mental capacity on it, which is why when I end up bracing at the last second in the canter-walk... I've taken my mind off not bracing to apply the aids, lol.