Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Walk to Canter Transitions

The following describes an exercise Karen Brown taught me for schooling walk to canter transitions. It has proven very helpful for Delphi.
At the walk, first take a few "short steps" (Karen's term for shorter, more energetic steps that lower and activate the hindquarters), counter-bend the horse and perform a half-turn around the hindquarters with the horse bent around your inside leg in the direction you want to canter while moving the outside shoulder around. The rider's aids for the canter depart are: outside leg behind the girth to maintain the horse's haunches while the inside leg creates the bend around the inside leg at the girth. The rider's inside leg gives a little "stomp, kick" at the girth while the outside leg stays firmly behind the girth to encourage the horse's outside hind as it activates into the first step of the canter stride. Remember to maintain a soft, giving jaw and poll by "vibrating" the inside rein while keeping a supple contact with the outside rein.
About the "stomp, kick" manoeuvre: It consists of quickly stepping firmly down into the inside stirrup (the "stomp") followed immediately by a tap at the girth with the inside leg (the "kick"); teaching this now will be useful in eventually teaching flying changes of stride (more on that later, grasshopper).