Monday, January 26, 2009

Building Confidence in Canter

During our most recent lesson with Karen Brown, Delphi and I learned two more excellent exercises to build Delphi's confidence (and mine!) in canter:

The first exercise begins on a twenty meter circle. Before A (or C ) on the short side make an upward transition to canter, from the walk or from the trot, it matters not. Say we've started this exercise in left canter, with the normal slight flexion left. When you reach the long side counter bend the horse to the right, then leg yield away from the long side to the left toward X, maintaining the left lead. At X change the bend again back to the "real" direction (in this case left) and make a ten meter left turn from the centerline to the long side, then ride straight ahead back toward your initial twenty meter circle.

The second exercise seems easier, and probably would be for most horses but Delphi found the first exercise easier than this one. Again you make an upward transition to the canter before the corner (we'll stay on our left lead again for the example). After the corner, turn down the centerline, stay in slight left flexion, and leg yield to the right from the centerline toward the long side. When you reach the long side make a ten meter left turn to the centerline. Delphi became a bit tense in the leg yield toward the long side; turning early at the quarterline in a near volte helped relax her by giving her something to do within all that arena space. Or, sometimes I would do the exercise from quarterline to quarterline, instead of going all the way to the wall.

Both exercises are helpful in building confidence, and the first especially works toward half pass at canter since you are basically doing canter half pass, but bent in the opposite direction to true "show mode" half pass.

Update: Delphi and I have been schooling these exercises the last three rides. Today we finally broke through the tension to some absolutely beautiful, soft, uphill leg yields in canter, using a full forty meters worth of arena without getting nervous or downhill. Progress!