Sunday, September 2, 2012

Obermeister is Back!

Three questions.  Three simple answers.  At THE BARN today with Karen Brown. *Cheers of joy!*

Q: Concerning canter pirouette, what should a correct pirouette feel like, and should one attempt to school it alone on a trained horse?

A: A canter pirouette feels like the horse, from a haunches in position, jumps in very collected canter strides around a very small circle described by the horse's hind legs.  The sensation of each canter stride is "canter in place" but the jump must be maintained in the gait.  Only when one has sufficient mastery of riding full canter pirouette (by understanding completely the process through having mastered it by repetition preferably over an acceptable amount of time on multiple horses in front of a knowledgeable trainer) should one attempt to school it alone.  In my case it is best for me to school quarter pirouettes in collected canter while riding a square, as previously learned with Delphi: canter a very straight line, then bring the outside leg back only slightly and and have the horse carry the shoulders around the haunches-- one stride, two strides-- of canter pirouette, then canter straight ahead again and repeat the process while describing, for example, a 20 meter diamond configured square. 

Q: What's an exercise that will help improve canter half pass?

A: Do NOT school endless lines of half pass and think this will somehow improve-- it won't and has the potential to make things worse.  Rather practice moving the shoulders and the haunches around a large circle (as described earlier).  For canter, school haunches in along the wall: in collected canter keep the horse's haunches bent around your inside leg with the haunches in.  If you were to nail an imaginary yardstick to the star on your horse's forehead, the yardstick would be directly perpendicular to the arena wall with the horse's body bent around your inside leg in a C shape.  Balance the exercise by returning to an absolutely straight canter (by allowing a return to straightness by softening the inside rein), then ride shoulder fore in canter, then straighten, then haunches in and so on.  Guard against whipping back and forth speedily from haunches in to shoulder fore; rather intentionally school a phase of straight canter between each. 

Q: Transitions!  Help me for the love of all that's holy! 

A: In canter, think of riding with a dot painted on the outside of your hip, just below your belt and straight up from your stirrup.  The dot will move in a circular motion in canter.  For a transition to collected canter, cause the dot to move more up and down in a vertical oval shape.  For a transition to trot/walk/halt spring up, up, up in the saddle drawing the horse's withers up to your seat into a soft transition to the gait (or halt) into which you ride forward.  Guard against stiffness by allowing elasticity and softening in your forearms and by being quick to give in the reins.