February 26, 2018

Parallel Poles Canter Exercise

Last Friday I had a lesson.  We've definitely hit a plateau, which is fine, or at least that's what I keep telling myself after six straight weeks of amazing rides and now a string of mediocre rides.  You can't have progress without getting out of your comfort zone...right?

One of us is excited for our lesson!
We started out getting him really good and on my aids and using both hind legs equally.  Lots of counterbent circles and lateral work.  Also that SI - half circle - half circle - travers movement from 2-2.  I am kind of in love with what that movement does for us right now.

Not quite the best he got this day, but look at my torso moving forward instead of backward with each trot step!  #progress

Once he was really on my aids, my trainer had us work on the canter.  All winter I've been working through the laundry list of items NK dumped on me during our last lesson in October, and the canter is the last thing we haven't yet focused on.  I told my trainer recently I want to focus on the canter these last two months of winter.

She put out two sets of parallel poles and, to greatly oversimplify her instructions, told me to canter through both sets of poles.  To the right, this was REALLY hard.  Like, we completely missed the poles sometimes

I had every intention of going through the second set of poles here and...didn't make it.

This exercise preyed on all of our weaknesses.  I turn into a pretzel on the right, I'm still so used to affecting the canter with my hands that I struggled to do my new "forward" hands, he runs through the outside aids (I'm probably causing that somehow) so it was tough to hit the poles, he was basically a motorcycle, he only has one canter speed, I have almost no ability to affect the gait...

To the left things were better:

I'm sitting better, I'm more upright, he's way straighter and not as inclined to run through my outside aids.  In comparing the two videos while writing this post, I'm seeing an overuse of the inside hand to the right but not the left, which makes sense.

I can tell there's a lot to unpack that was highlighted by this exercise, and I'm interested to see where my trainer takes my request to "focus on the canter" from here.


  1. Man I have all these exact same problems, but to the left. What helps me most is to really thing about weighing the inside stirrup (loooove to sit to the outside) and turn my head to really look where I'm going. Somehow focusing on where I'm going helps me sit up straight... not sure why, but it helps. Good luck - the first step to fixing a problem is figuring out what the problem is!

  2. I have similar struggles with the canter. I'm totally gonna steal this little exercise and I can guarantee we're gonna miss going through the poles a couple of times.

  3. What a great exercise! I am going to try it!

  4. This is a great exercise for turning and controlling the shoulders! Think quarter pirouettes!

  5. What a cool looking exercise. I'll have to give it a whirl once the ground doesn't *squish* with every footfall lol

  6. This looks like a really fun exercise! Definitely will have to set this up when the weather allows.

  7. You are definitely having the winter of breakthroughs!

  8. Oh definitely setting this up soon!

  9. Cool exercise!!

    I'm still struggling to make it around the arena (hahaha) but maybe I can bust it out this summer sometime.

  10. I have the exact same issues in the opposite direction. It's crazy that I'm reading this now because I just did a very similar exercise with Jane at my lesson yesterday!