March 11, 2012

Getting Over the Canter Freakout

Today, we cantered.  A lot.

Tired, sweaty pony says "WTF just happened to me?"
If my trainer is right that he has to have a freakout about each new thing we introduce before he gets comfortable with it, (and so far, she has been), then I'm going to have to push him through it on everything, and that includes the canter.  And so, on this gorgeous, sunny day in which I rode in a t-shirt for the first time since...a long time ago, we did more cantering than we've done since I owned him.

He needs a few things here: first, he needs to know that he IS capable of picking up the canter.  You can feel him go, "I'm really not sure if I can do this..." each time he launches into the canter.  Second, he needs to pick up the correct lead.  Ongoing green horse problem.  Third, he needs to get in shape for it, which will help with the first problem.  Finally, he needs to learn that, just like at the walk and trot, the canter is a gait at which you think about things and don't just run around like your tail is on fire.

Today, it was mostly transitions with a few long canters thrown in as well.  In the beginning, he was his usual freaked out self, but the longer we went on, the more he started to think and settle and respond.  He actually tried to take off with me once or twice, but it didn't take long for him to get tired enough that he cut that out.  He blew his leads probably 2-3 times over the course of the ride, but a lot of that is my fault for dumping him when I asked for the transition.

What do I see at the canter itself right now?  I see that darn outside shoulder popped waaaay out, because let's face it, the canter is hard work.  I see a green horse substitute "fast" for "steady" because he doesn't have the muscling (or brain!) for it yet.  And I see a horse that was primarily trained to drive dealing with a gait that so far, has been mostly only used out in the field.

Now that we got that out of the way, I'm very curious to see how Thursday's lesson goes.  Maybe we can make some actual progress at the canter if the freakout really is out of the way.

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