Thursday, February 8, 2018

1/28/2018 - Adult Camp Lesson 2

My lesson Sunday morning was with LH, and she also focused on keeping the quality of the canter and frustrating Penn while he builds the strength to keep his hind end under him instead of trying to splat in the counter canter.

While we warmed up, she stressed he needs to be straight: If he’s not straight he gets flingy (as noted in yesterday's cavaletti lesson). He needs to be super straight on the outside aids.

She also stressed the quality of the canter: If you’re asking for collected canter, right on. Make sure you can still drive forward. Keep the jump in the canter no matter what. Lots of inside leg to outside rein.

Look! The sit! Too bad it wasn't quite what I asked for and he ended up stuck.

She also said now is not the time to be subtle with my canter cues- once he’s confirmed I can be subtle. I need to make sure my seat and leg are very, very clear. 

She also said to stop asking for backwards when he wants to stop, but he can send himself backwards. Tap him forward. Don’t ask for rein back or anything that resembles backwards for a while (not that I was planning on that, haha).

So stuck in the canter. Must spin in. Must back up.

Basically, we’re picking apart the changes and making them better and he thinks that’s horrible. As we got rolling into the real meat of the lesson, I tried to bring him along to the changes the way GP Trainer and I did, half pass to the change. The half pass was ok (haunches leading, a new problem for us), but I lost the jump and he hopped instead of changing.

I got the canter back, and LH recommended not doing any movements, just canter on the 20m circle, and over x, change to counter canter on the adjacent 20m circle. So that's what we focused on the rest of our lesson!

Find the counter canter, and spend the first circle just keeping counter canter. Next, flop around a little bit, but keep the counter canter. Slowly start changing the bend, working on left bend in the right canter, all while keeping the counter canter.

He got all flustered when I started changing the bend and trotted, but LH praised me for keeping a very cool head when he started his halt/rein back nonsense and simply going back to it. We did some more counter canter as I tried to change the bend and he broke to trot, then tried to quit, to which LH said, “Horses are great, horses are great, dressage is fun, dressage is fun!” Just keep going!

She said that he’s not wrong in breaking, being uncomfortable and knowing something is going to happen. The counter canter on the circle is about him letting me in and me being able to adjust the canter or flop around as desired without him changing. Eventually, when I can counter canter and move around and adjust the stride and bend, and I finally do ask him to change, he’s going to leap at the chance to do it because it’ll be a relief and easier than anything else we have been doing. And it will be beautiful and lovely.

But look at this very smart walk- counter canter transition!

We took a break, then got our wires crossed about which direction to go next- LH wanted the left lead, but I heard right lead, which made sense to me since the right lead is weaker, and he did this lovely agreeable CC circle:

We went the other way, and had to work through his halt/rein back shenanigans, and got the left lead rolling. She had me keep the regular counter canter for a circle, then start bending him right. He wanted to lay on me and lean, and I had to fluff him up off the rein. She got after me to keep the jump coming, and to open my inside rein to say, “hey, over here” and he had to maintain the CC. His stride got a bit open, and when I went to collect it, he quit.

We got the counter canter back, and she reminded me to keep his poll up. “Don’t even ask for a change until he can counter canter with his poll up, in the opposite bend, with his hind legs under his body. When he can do all this and not give you the middle finger, and not stop and back up, then you can ask for the change."

In his last CC on the left lead, she had me really change his bend and sit down, and he just got stuck but never quit trying.

She encouraged me to keep going through this struggle, because he will be so much better on the other side.

I found this lesson to be super helpful, and I actually have a single half hour clip from this lesson, so here you go. Bad blogger with a too long video I know, but I've cued it up to the right lead canter work.

I videoed J's lesson for her, and we got everything packed up to go home. It was a great weekend of learning!

Penn staring longingly out his window. He and B didn't really want to go home.
Penn and B with matching sped-heads in the trailer cams.
Penn is usually mean in the trailer, but he and B seemed to be genuine friends!
The sunset was SO PRETTY. (don't worry, J took this pic, not me!)

Of course it was dark (but not too late!) by the time we got back to the barn, and we hadn't had anything go majorly wrong... so I fulfilled that by almost jack knifing my trailer. I had to aim it around a truck to get it back to its spot, and I misjudged everything and got my truck stuck in the mud while wedged between the trailer and a fence. *facepalm* Why didn't I turn on 4wd? The truck can't turn as tightly... and the fence was already a problem. So I had to unhook right there and move the trailer another day when the ground was frozen again. Sigh. At least I didn't actually jack knife it!

So close to disaster.

I found this weekend so worthwhile, cavaletti work and more homework to make the changes better. I also really liked getting 4.5 lessons (we'll call the cavaletti a .5, lol) in January. I've already noticed a big difference, so I'm trying to work out if I can financially do this camp again in February. We will see!


  1. lol my trailer has dents from me jackknifing it MORE THAN ONCE. So uhh you wouldn't be the first. :)