July 5, 2021

Lesson Wrap-Up: First Try at Canter Half Pass

I'm not sure what I expected from Connor being with my GP trainer for 6 days and 3 rides before I got on on Saturday morning, but I definitely didn't expect her to totally transform him.

Excuse me, is this mine? I don't recognize it.

From the moment I got on, even before I picked the reins up, I could tell she'd been on him. When she's been on him, even when we're walking on the buckle in the beginning, every little movement the bit makes means something to him, and he tries to follow it.

Next, I noticed that the contact felt completely transformed and so solid. He was reaching down into the bit with every step no matter how I rode:

Practicing for our HUS debut

She walked over after my warm-up and could not stop gushing about how good he feels. "If you didn't have a big show coming up, we would be working on flying changes hard right now, the canter is ready for it," she said.

I'm not even sure what movement this random screen grab is from, we definitely didn't school half steps or super collected trot yesterday, and yet...

We started out by working on the turns on the haunches, which is an easy place for us to score more points. She explained that he still wants to walk forward with the inside hind rather than weighting it like he should be, and she explained in great detail that my inside leg has to be asking that inside hind to step up and down in place, higher, rather than forward.

"What you're doing is fine for Second Level, but this horse can do Third Level work in this, actually, he can do a Fourth Level-quality walk pirouette already, so we may as well raise the bar."

When I did it right, it involved a lot more body parts (of mine) than I had been using in the past. Every step required inside leg to outside rein applied at just the right moments with a guarding outside leg. This is something I am going to practice a lot in the days leading up to Pony Cup, because doing it right is certainly not automatic for me yet.

Once those were passable, we did an exercise that was 

  1. TOH
  2. 10m canter circle in haunches-in 
  3. Canter-walk straight into another TOH 

And in the middle of that exercise she yelled, "THERE'S your collected canter!" It felt amazing.

She said I might think he was going to break in it because it was more collected than anything I'd ever ridden before, and I said surprisingly I didn't feel that way. It felt powerful and light and like it wasn't a struggle for him.

 After we'd done that a few times, she told me to take my 10m circle haunches in feeling straight up the centerline.


And then she told me to get the bend solid, sit to the inside and apply some outside aids (massively paraphrased)


And then she said surprise, you're doing a canter half pass!

Was it amazing quality or steep enough, no, but it was my first time riding the movement, and I love the way she just snuck it up casually on me without giving me a heads up. Unfortunately the Pivo was in a horrible spot to capture lackluster half passes (lol), but I had to take a GIF anyway, for posterity.

Baaaaaarely moving to the inside, but we're doing it, lol. Gotta start somewhere!

We ended the lesson by drilling SI and HI on the rail, more for my benefit than his. She talked about how consistency of shape is important to the scoring and how I needed to get the correct angle and keep it. To the right we were a lot more successful than the left, in part because I'm sure I'm sitting crooked in some way to the left, but we ran out of time to figure it out in the lesson.

That trot tho

He's staying with her the rest of this week before I pick him up on Friday, then he'll have six days at home before we leave for NDPC on the following Thursday!


  1. I love how his beautiful tail is swinging happily. You were so smart to send him to the GP trainer for two weeks. All this progress!

    1. Thank you! It's interesting about the tail actually, it always swings like that, but he carries it off to the left when there's pain somewhere, and when I switched him to the Fairfax bridle it went from left to straight overnight. You can see it's bang on straight here, so he's feeling good!

  2. Ugh he looks INCREDIBLE and you’re riding so well!! My heart is exploding this is so exciting!

  3. He is looking amazing. Look at how muscled and confident he is!

  4. I guess I'll just keep saying it - you guys look incredible! What I love about your half pass steps is that the rhythm and him being up in the shoulders didn't change at all. Gav and I have given half pass a go and he wants to splat on the forehand which in the moment just feels like he's racing off.

    1. Thank you for noticing, yeah, you've hit on one of the things I love about her teaching and training style. We're not just going to do the movements to do the movements, we're going to do the movements well and out of a position of strength, power and uphill-ness. And then when we DO add a movement, we make it as non-event as possible both for me (like here) and for him (like his first flying changes last fall). But a year ago he would've been splatted all over his forehand - before our first lots-of-reinbacks lessons :)

  5. Yay!! Good luck at your upcoming show, I can't wait to hear about it!

  6. So exciting! I can't wait to hear how Pony Cup goes!

  7. My coach snuck my first flying change onto me like that. Gotta love it when they do that! Connor looks incredible!

    1. Thank you! I have always done well with having stuff snuck up on me like that, including jumping bigger jumps, haha.

  8. Can't believe how good he looks! He reminds me of the time I saw Crumble schooling half steps when I was visiting Amanda in Vermont. Fancy, fancy!