Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The canter finally "happened"

There is something to be said to have all of one's horses home...

I went and picked up Maggie last night from the boarding facility last night. It seemed unfortunate timing to bring her home because we have had some exceptional moments in her training in the last couple of  weeks. My paid month of board wasn't actually up for few more days but my schedule for the rest of the week dictated that last night was the best night to get her home. Before loading her up,  I did decide to utilize the nice outdoor arena with good footing one last time.

Remember when I did this post and talked about working on her canter? Well, in all honesty, I  hadn't actually worked on her canter at all while she was boarded.  I realized soon after getting there and riding Mags a few times that I needed to work on other things with her to help porperly prepare her for canter work. 
It's always been my philosophy with horse training that if you can't get something at a walk or halt, you certaintly aren't going to get it when  you add speed. Certain things that had to be in place and working consistently before I could ask for canter and expect there to be any success.I had missed some things along the way with Maggie's training and now it would need to be rectified...

Historically her thing is to rush into a huge racey jack hammer like trot that will knock teeth out of your head if you let it . Then when she does finally go into the canter, she kicks straight out back several times and then even a few more times when you ask her to keep going. When we first started dealing with this (over a year ago) we ruled out saddle fit or any other physiological reasons for this reaction. It was definitely just a discomfort/dislike with that gait for her.

Well, it must be working because yesterday,  Maggie discovered her canter without it being a huge issue. Historically her thing is to rush into a huge racey Jack hammer trot that will knock teeth out of your jaw if you let it , then when she does finally go into the canter, she  kicks straight out back several times  and then even a few more times when you ask her to keep going. When we first started dealing with this (over a year ago) we ruled out saddle fit or any other physiological reasons for this reaction.  It was definitely just a discomfort/dislike with that gait for her.

Yesterday afternoon, we set about our warm up routine which involves alot of circles and serpentines and up down transtions between the walk and trot (that is..correct transitions ...meaning no head in the air camel impersonation transition)

Eventually, we made our way around the arena in a nice relaxed, head down , even paced trot...We worked on  changing speeds within the trot;  collecting up at the shorter end of the arena and extending down the longer side of the arena. Teaching her that "rush" isn't something she always needs to do has been the biggest challenge.

After a few changes of directions I let her just trot on the buckle  to stretch down and reach.  She has begin to accept that she can stretch down and trot without having to increase pace. She will now maintain an even pace about 80% of the time.  It is such a pleasure to ride her when she is cooperating.  As we trotted around, I thought to myself  "wow, she is so relaxed, she almost feels like she could drop into a nice litte canter here"

As soon as that thought crossed my brain, she did just that... so I let her.. it was pretty cool because I didn't actually ask with any cues.. which eventually we can work on but the fact that she went form a nice relaxed trot into a canter , on her own , without it being a big deal, was a huge accomplishment.

She only got tense once when another "rodeo" rider came by us at a gallop but she easily checked back and when I asked her to drop her head at the canter, she did. It wasn't the most comfortable or easy canter to ride but I just got off her back into to 2 point and let her go. She maintained an easy pace and after we made it around a couple times I asked her for a walk, let her catch her breath and quit for the day.

It was a great stopping point.

I love it when a plan comes together...and I am gald she is home again!


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