February 13, 2018

Canter Transformation

Continuing with the outtakes from the "Not Blogworthy" photo folders I have...

Hoo boy.  This was 7 months ago!

That photo is from the test in which the judge called out his "head nodding" and specifically said my rigid elbows were causing it.  That stung - but I knew it was true.

Literally pulling backwards with each stride

For whatever reason, that feedback has finally stuck since my lesson last week when my trainer came out guns blazing on this subject, and I have done an above average, unusually good job of implementing that position change.  And it has made THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE. 

Say what?  Is this my horse?  Is that me?
I've had to completely re-learn how to ride the canter.  I had been using so much hand, I'd been keeping Connor from using his body effectively.  First I had to let go and just accept him splatting on the forehand while I taught my hands how to move forward instead of back.  But then I needed to fix the splat...

So since I don't know what I'm doing, I googled "how to get horse off forehand at the canter" and was led to a helpful COTH thread that, in summary, said, "try leg yielding at the canter."

I did that and oh MAN did that work.

What up, highest symmetry score ever.

I found it was most effective to leg yield off my left leg in both directions, (probably because I was actively engaging the weak leg in both directions?) so quarter line to rail on the left rein and rail to quarter line (we didn't really get there, but it's the thought that counts) on the right rein.  We also played with some counterbending in the canter.

This GIF was taken eight days after the one above it!  It looks so different!

Toward the end of the ride, I felt his front end lighten a ton and his neck looked like it grew six inches taller.  Of course I didn't video that ride (GIF above is from a few rides later), but the Equisense did show some of our highest canter front end elevation numbers to date at that point in the ride:

Side note, the newest Equisense app update can now do minute-by-minute breakdowns of your rides in certain metrics like this one.  SO COOL!  No more guessing.
All the heart eyes!

I just can't believe this is the same horse, and that that one position flaw has made this big of an immediate difference.  Just amazing.

His neck is above his withers and his nose is out in front of him and not curled into his chest on the downbeat of the canter.  Compare that to the photo at the beginning of this post.  I am just amazed.


  1. What a huge change! It's awesome to see how something that is seemingly so tiny can have such a big impact.

  2. Wow, you both look super! Good for you for figuring it out!

    1. All credit goes to my regular trainer for this one, but thanks!

  3. Even to my non dressage trained eye I can see a huge difference!!

  4. Wow! That is amazing! I love how much he "grew".

    1. Right? It was CRAZY to see from the saddle!

  5. You guys look amazing and he looks so much higher in front!!