Canter transitions! Yes!
Our biggest stumbling block to date has been “up” canter transitions. I have to admit I do not find it the easiest thing to train. It is not necessarily rocket science to get a racehorse on a racetrack to canter. (The real science is getting them to trot, instead.) On the other hand, teaching a horse to step nicely into the canter requires a knowledge of movement, a horse with a solid back end underneath of him, and a lot of patience.
And so, for the past few months, I’ve been generally tolerating a little bit of a scramble heading into the canter. I’ve been more concerned that he get the lead I’m asking for. Being pretty at the same time – that would just be nitpicking.
Getting leads was no picnic, either. Generally he’d get his left lead if I curled him up to the left and stuck my left heel into his side. Sounds so attractive, I know. Let’s face it, it sounds like the last canter circle of the last course of the last class of a two day hunter show. Just canter one more time, please. And I swear we’ll go home. And of course, all the rest of the time, he’d get his right lead. Logical. If you start out your gallop on the straightaway of the racecourse, you’ll start out on your outside lead. You’d only be on your left lead when you were turning left – ah, it all comes together.
But of course we want to be able to pick up either lead, from a straight line, because we are picky like that and may want to ask for illogical manuevers like counter-canter (which proves that your horse trusts you so completely that he is willing to risk life and limb and common sense and move on the wrong lead for you).
I finally felt yesterday that this had to be addressed, in a big way, and we worked very hard on it, circling and circling and circling until he was getting the lead and doing it nicely, with a spring, rather than a run. Today, we worked on a long and low trot for about ten minutes, then I sat, pressed my leg, and – and –
Ladies and gentleman, (are there any gentleman reading this? Please comment if you are of the male sex. I have yet to get a comment from a boy) I present to you Final Call, Thoroughbred who canters with pressure from the outside leg and a smile.
I’m feeling very good. Thinking about the hunter pace on Sunday…