December 22, 2012

Uphill Canter

"He was really, really good when I rode him yesterday," my trainer said with a huge smile and a laugh as I was talking up.

"I figured, judging by the number of exclamation points and emoticons in that text!" I said.

She giggled.  "Out of all the horses I rode yesterday, I had the most fun with him - he was just so engaged and really 50% in both reins, and straight.  And his canter, was it good."

It wasn't until later on in the lesson, after we'd effortlessly switched back and forth between shoulder-in and haunches-in every few strides, worked on lightening our contact to more of what you'd use with an educated horse rather than a green one, done some magnificent trot work and started turns on the haunches, when I accidentally cued him for the canter, did I really understand what's happened to Connor lately, with the rides she's put on him and the progress we've made.

That accidental canter transition was so good, it caught me off-guard when he sat straight down on his hocks and his front end came up what felt like a good six inches.  I pitched forward, because I expected his flat, "runny" canter, which goes forward and never up.  All I saw was flaxen mane coming toward me as he elevated his front end for the transition and stayed there into the gait.

My eyes must have been huge.  "Whoa!" I said.  My trainer laughed.  "You've probably never felt anything like that before, have you?"  My mind flew back to high school, to a single ride I had on an imported third-level Hanoverian mare, the only other time I've ever felt anything like that - and I seriously had no idea what I was doing then.  "No," I said.  "Now this time, ride a couple of shoulder-in/haunches-in transitions, then ask again and sit back this time.  Let him come up under you."

What happened next was mind-blowing.  I got that same canter transition, and I had a soft, round, packaged Connor beneath me at the canter, with almost no weight in the reins.  I've never gotten that before.  I've had him round once or twice, but not round, connected and sitting and using himself like that.  The progress we have made at the trot is translating into the canter, a gait we still don't work as often as the others.  "Just wait til you have a canter like that going to the base of the fence - you'll love that," she said.

She also got on him today to demonstrate something to me, and showed me what I was feeling with those canter transitions.  It was as amazing to see as it was to feel.  She never stopped smiling while she cantered him, and I have to say, I know the feeling.

Post-lesson: no sweat!  BO said today that he thinks Connor's clip looks like the two-toned paint job on a '68  Mustang.


  1. That is so awesome! Congrats on making such great progress recently. Connor is SO cute!

  2. Love reading your excitement in this post :) Connor is making such great progress!