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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lesson 3: The Canter

Have I said that I'm really really really enjoying my lessons? How about that I'm absolutely loving them and I'm having a fabulous time? How about that I'm walking on clouds after the lesson and continue to have a silly grin on my face the morning after?

OK - I think you get the picture.

Another fabulous/stupendous/fantastic lesson last night.

Something started to click with Farley during our Monday schooling. Instead of resenting the bit and trying to avoid it, she started to actually YIELD to pressure and ACCEPT the pressure. She's working the bit and working with me, if copious amounts of slime and yucky foam is any indication. On Tuesday everything came together - we were round, we were bending on the circle, AND we were moving forward with her in front of my leg. Transitions were and are still a bit rough (she doesn't stay very round during them) but we were making progress!

My homework from my last lesson was:
  • Keep her round
  • Stay OUT on a 20 meter circle
  • Practice sitting through my transitions
  • Work on pushing her from behind onto the bit.

I used to leach private violin lessons to kids (most of them were ~3rd grade). I told myself that if I ever took lessons for anything I would PRACTICE and do my homework. I don't think many people do, and it does matter to the trainer or instructor whether or not you practice. I think moving along faster than my instructor thought I would, I think because I do the homework and put the time in. Her neighbors certaintly think so. She told me that they watch my lessons while they are gardening in the evenings and they had to verify with her that it was the same person from the first lesson to the second! LOL.

So what is this all leading up to? I got to CANTER last night. She had told me when I first started lessons that my horse was so strung out and really needed to build up some muscle that comes from being round before she felt comfortable working with the canter. Last night she looked at my trot work and said that she thought Farley was ready - after only 2 weeks of work!

We worked on deep half halts and then gave the cue. Off we went! Into a beautiful, round, rocking-horse canter.

The canter on Farley has always been rough, jerky, and really strung out. It was really difficult to keep centered because she tossed me around.

Last night it was collected, smooth and THERE. WhooHOO!

It's also the first time that I was able to keep contact with Farley at the canter and she didn't buck.

My trainer said that when Farley tucks her rump and is round at the canter, she doesn't look as under-rumped and there actually is quite a bit of muscle there. Thank you endurance conditioning!

  • Continue to work on roundness
  • Continue to work on forward onto the bit (using a dressage whip as backup to my leg)
  • Very short sessions of correct canter work
  • Sitting half-halts (with a sitting trot)
  • Keep my right elbow bent
  • Keep my right leg back

My next lesson is the first Wednesday in October. I'm on vacation next week and she's out of town the next.

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