Saturday, March 21, 2009

Uphill Canter

In our quest for improved canter departs, Delphi and I worked almost exclusively on canter in our lesson today. The transitions are becoming more obedient; we're still working to improve relaxation during and after the up trans to canter. An exercise Karen gave us: keep the jaw (and thereby the poll) supple by flexions left and flexions right, and keep the neck up where the horse can comfortably take the upward trans and keep its hindquarters jumping under its body by activating the hindquarters. Do this by half halting up: at this stage I keep my elbows pressing down and into my sides while actually raising my hands up. Yes, there should be a straight from your hand to the bit, but when the horse is correctly lifting its entire forehand (not the neck only) and lowering its haunch in the "jump" into canter, there will be a direct line from hand to bit even when it feels like (to me at this point) my hands are way up high. As always, after the half halt (however strong!) allow the horse to find self carriage by softening-- completely softening the rein then repeat, repeat, repeat the process of half halting up, engaging the hindquarters to jump under the horse, then giving to allow self carriage. We were able to get some counter canter shallow loops and counter canter three loop serpentines (we rode six in a row by going the arena twice in each canter lead!). A very satisfactory lesson for both Delphi and me.