March 16, 2012

Houston, We Have Canter

I finally got smooth, uncomplicated canter transitions out of him.  Canter transitions that weren't hesitant, that didn't make a huge fuss over the fact that I was asking him to canter - they just happened.  Was it tiredness, or is he actually getting used to the idea of cantering?  No idea.  The first couple weren't so good, but they got progressively better.  Finally, we have a canter with which to work with. 

Tonight, for the first time since last fall, I rode in short sleeves (no sleeves, actually) and I believe that's why my trainer identified the tension in my biceps and elbows.  I'm still struggling with the idea of finding the right balance between too much contact/not enough contact and needing heavier contact in order to develop light contact.  I will be the first to admit that as a result of my changing ideas about contact, I was probably headed toward developing a heavy hand and a heavy-mouthed horse.  But my trainer's constant refrain of "elastic elbows" tonight absolutely cured that, and gave me the elastic-mouthed horse I've been looking for all along.

I'm extremely exhausted after that, and staying up to watch the IU game.  Here, have a terrible pony picture because my DSLR is still broken.  (I know, I know...)

View from the new loft!

Bonus picture.


  1. I had an instuctor that made me ride using ace bandage as reins. I was able to figure out being "elastic" and get a feel for the contact. The other thing my mom used to use was having students hold little foam balls in their hands. They became aware of how little pressure was actually exerted by the hands to achieve contact. Good for Naomi and you. Elbows can make all the difference.
    Canter is an issue with Comrade too. I am hoping that if I get his fitness up, his canter work will improve even more. Mostly I just make him do lots of transitions. Are you doing anything specific?

  2. That's great! I could really relate to this post. For the past 6 months, it's been me with the canter problem, not the horse, and I'm struggling to get myself back to where I used to be--being able to think through the canter rather than go into automatic frustration/giving-up mode when I don't get it the first time.

  3. Nicole, the ace bandage thing is a good idea.

    CE, is it leads or picking up the canter in general? I always get the feeling that everything happens so quickly at the canter, I have a hard time maintaining the clarity of thoughts that I have at the other gaits for remembering the little things.