June 8, 2012

New Skill: Walk-Canter Transitions

My Thursday lesson obviously wasn't entirely about bits as my last post might lead you to believe.  In fact, she didn't once mention the bit, aside from constantly reminding me about keeping him round and riding him back to front.  He's not getting away with being an ostrich now that he knows better, and my trainer is making sure of it.

Our lesson started with a warmup and just sort of slid into the meat and potatoes of the lesson.  I like those.  Going along with our theme lately of 'transitions', we built on last week's lesson, and after a self-guided walk warmup, we started at the trot.  We'd trot a few strides, then walk one stride, and by "one stride" I mean we both sort of held our breaths and thought about walking for a second, and all four feet hit the ground at different times for a split second, then we were trotting again.  If I was organized, it went great.  If I was daydreaming, or thinking about my position, or devoted any part of my consciouness to anything other than this exercise, he got an extra walk stride in there and felt flat.

Through the first part of the lesson, she would call out when she wanted me to do a transition, but as we went along and I felt what it did for him, I was able to feel when he needed one of those transitions.  When he got to feeling heavy, flat or lazy, it was time for a transition. 

After a brief stretchy walk break, she introduced something brand new: walk-canter transitions.  Hooray!  In true form, there was no big pre-lesson discussion about it, she just slid it in in the middle of the lesson.  She made sure I knew what I was doing, what my role was, and we just slipped in a "trot-walk-trot-walk-canter-walk" like it was no big deal in the context of what we were doing.  And you know what, my little guy didn't question it or freak out once.  She is so good at knowing exactly what he needs when we do something new, and that was a great example.  We got two good ones, then went back to trot-canter departs the rest of the night.

Finally, I got another new instruction tonight: gallop.  He was being blah and unmotivated to move forward in the canter, so she had me take him large and get up out of the saddle and GALLOP.  I achieved this by picking up my leg and giving him a good kick in the flank.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzooooooooooom!  Afterward, Rachael said it sounded like a herd of Clydesdales had taken up residence in the outdoor.  It worked, and he was much sharper after that.  Despite being sensitive and forward, he has a tendency to be lazy.  It's something we'll have to work on with conditioning and exercises.

Afterwards I took him out on a hack and he did the cat-crouch spook at a bird sitting on the gate, so hard I felt like I dropped six inches like a cartoon character in order to stay in the saddle.  Ponies.


  1. Ha, ha he is so much like Comrade. No surprise they are brothers.

  2. I like the "herd of Clydesdales" comment. One of my good friends rides a Gypsy Vanner and that's what he sounds like. :)