October 5, 2020

HUGE Canter Improvements!!

This week GP trainer posted a couple of videos of Connor to her FB page that she had her groom take when Connor was going so well in a training ride she couldn't believe it.

"I did not know this pony could SIT this much!" GP trainer says at this point in the video. PS this horse is NOT built uphill at all, every bit of lift here, he is working for.

Then on Friday and Saturday after her rides, she called me just so excited about the progress she had made with him, and also how much she was enjoying riding him. She said she felt like he had opened up to her emotionally, and she was able to be much subtler with her aids, and she couldn't wait for me to ride him in my lesson on Sunday. She said "His canter, I can FEEL a canter pirouette in there, I haven't asked for it yet but you are going to be able to take him so far."

Everything about this bridle is borrowed or temporary except for that Schockemhole browband

I started out riding him like the horse he used to be, with me as the rider I used to be, and the theme of this lesson was basically "He's not the horse you used to ride and you need to step it up for him now."

The Pivo locked onto two horses as they left the ring and followed them into literal space, so very little media today sadly.

She had me stop because she said my lower leg was still popping in the posting trot and we had to fix that. She said "This is going to be not what MW teaches beginner riders, this is going to be a little beyond Mary," which I appreciated because then my brain wasn't thinking "Yeah but Mary said..." in the next few minutes.

She had me think about keeping tension in my knees so that my thighs didn't open and my knees didn't pop over the thigh blocks with each post. This was hard for me because I used to pinch with my knees, which is not what she was asking for here: this was more using them as a pivot point for the lever of the upper leg while keeping the lower leg still. But I had taken "don't pinch" too far, and was riding with no tone in my knees.

Then she told me I needed to keep my Achilles tendon long - NOT my heels down necessarily, but I was shortening it and actively drawing my heel up with each post. She wanted me to think about keeping "as much of your boot below the flap of the saddle as possible," which necessitated a more relaxed back of the knee.

From my warmup, before she started teaching me, so you can see my lower leg flinging about and how poorly Connor is going.

I admit I was a little miffed and annoyed with myself for having to get a "baby level" posting demonstration with her holding my leg in place while I posted on my halted horse, but the difference it made in how he went, oh my gosh! With my leg in place that solidly, all I had to do to get him soft, round, elastic and solid in the contact was to put my legs on and hold the outside rein for a split second.

From there on, I had a horse I did not recognize. His understanding of the contact is SO different, and he wants me to ride him with so much more tone than I've ever used with him, even being a "naturally high tone rider" as MW said. He understood what a half halt was. I was able to put him together after he got a little splatty.

And then.

We picked up the canter.

And holy shit. If I didn't recognize him before, I really didn't recognize him now.

My old home trainer (still feels weird to not call her my trainer) used to have me get after him for more power in the upward walk-canter transition, or even would tell me to avoid picking it up from the walk entirely because he would do a lovely packaged W-C TX with too little power. She was not wrong, either. But GP trainer is getting the same lovely packaged W-C TX with ENORMOUS amounts of sit and power, and I got to feel it on Sunday.

I love this face

I had to learn how to contain and effectively utilize that much power first, and the first time I picked up the canter, I almost couldn't stop him. But she coached me through it and said "You should feel like you can halt and rein back at any moment in any gait, including the canter," which she had said before in the past, but it was never true until yesterday, when I did actually get him to canter-halt and reinback.

I. Was. Stunned. I did it again and again just because I felt like a kid with a new toy on Christmas morning, lol. The canter was so slow, we were almost cantering in place, but it was so POWERFUL.

"His canter is such good quality," she said as we were recapping the lesson, "He's going to have no trouble with flying changes, half passes, really, you're going to be able to take him so far." I laughed and told her how CJF called him the "king of the tranter" when I first got him, and she almost didn't believe it.

One month down, three months to go, it feels like the sky's the limit for what he'll be able to learn! Another lesson coming up on Thursday.


  1. Awwwww I love this so much! So cool to hear your excitement for riding this horse right now.

  2. Lovely canter! And thank you for sharing your instructor's feedback. It's very helpful to hear this explained in a different way.

  3. Eeee so exciting! Isn't sitting those gaits such an amazing feeling?

  4. Wow, so much progress in a month. I can't wait to hear about how he does the rest of the time. You must be over the moon!