Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Training: Collecting the canter

Goals: Ride a few strides of collected canter

It must have been a blue moon today because there was absolutely NO creepy crawly traffic on two of the main freeways getting to the barn. I zipped over there after work and got there about twenty minutes earlier than usual - hooray! Every minute counts!

I'm going to get straight to our ride because there is much to talk about. We ran through our usual warm-up routine - this time focusing more on getting him to leg-yield while keeping  forward movement. Some sucking back but I think we are slowly getting the hang of it. I noticed that if I position my legs just right (outside leg slightly behind girth to push haunches away from fence - inside leg at girth for forward movement) and keep good contact in his mouth while staying relaxed and straight in my seat (WHEW) - it would work. We managed to get a few good steps in each direction at the walk so I was very happy with that!

Then we moved on to trot/walk transitions which we actually haven't worked on in a while. I threw in a few big/small/big trots, trying to keep up the rhythm and forward in the more collected trot. I tend to tense up and he will start curling his head in, or slowing down, so I tried to be conscious of keeping my hips and knees open so as not to block him.

In our canter/walk transitions we worked on getting him to move from his haunches. Then we moved on to big canters at a circle, spiraling in and getting more and more collected before transitioning down into a walk. He did fantastic going to the our last few steps of canter we were pretty much cantering on the spot! However we had a lot more trouble going to the left. For some reason he did NOT want to flex left…I'm not sure if it was because he was a bit stiff there, or if he felt uncomfortable somewhere on his body that he was reluctant to move as freely into the left.

He was also pretty distracted with whatever he thought he saw outside the arena so I tried to get his focus back to me by doing some 10m circles to the left and a couple of turn on the forehands. Unfortunately despite my efforts we couldn't get a collected canter in, even after some spiraling and pushing from my end. It could be he wasn't warmed up enough and was still stiff on that side, or my aids weren't clear enough. I'm not sure…

However he was very forward in both trot, canter, and walk as well (with a little more help from me there). We ended the ride on some stretchy trots and then a cool down walk where I'd maneuver him around the arena with just my seat. We managed to do some shallow figure eights with just seat and leg aids alone which was fantastic.

Our next ride I'm really going to focus on getting his left side reaaaalllly warmed up and soft. Seeing how he still does the occasional head toss when I ask for more contact,  I'm also going to work more on forward, leg yields, and straightness. I might check his bridle to see if some areas are a bit tight and causing discomfort.

Here's to more trouble-shooting!

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