Monday, April 22, 2013

Theme of this month's riding is Get This Damn Canter!

I've been the proud riding partner of Golly for five years now.   We've come pretty far in that time ...  We were a horse and rider who had never heard of dressage, a horse that had never trotted under saddle, couldn't steer at ALL, and was so unbalanced that he felt like he was going to fall over when we went to the left.   Now he is a good partner who enjoys his work.  He is fairly balanced and steers with just nuances of my leg.  He has gotten scores in the 70's in Intro tests and even when I was sick and fearful of puking over his neck at our last test, he plugged through and took care of me enough to get a score in the 60's.

But he still can't canter.

Yup... I know it seems ridiculous.  I've seen other people with green horses and they are cantering around merrily now.   We are a great partnership and he is doing good dressage work.  So what's so hard about this damn canter? 

It's not like I haven't cantered.  I cantered my last horse all the time.  We even cantered in the woods on small narrow trails (maybe not always the best thing... my knees had some pretty close calls).  I've cantered other people's horses.  No problem. I've even been told by reputable instructors that canter is my best gait.

But because Golly is my main ride, its been some time now since I have cantered regularly so I need some practice too.

There are a number of reasons we are five years into this and we still don't canter.  He never had a natural canter.  When other horses were galloping across the field, you could find Golly trotting VERY fast behind them.  Then when we started working on it in schooling sessions, he would explode into massive bucks.   That was when I could get him to do it.  Most of the time we got super fast trots that would jar your brains out.

Eventually he had some unexplained lameness that wouldn't go away. I gave him some time off.  Still lame.   Eventually I had his hocks injected and it was a miracle cure.  That was two years ago and he has been fine since.   My vet believe that his hocks were in the beginning stages before they fused and it was causing him some pain.  Once the injections wore off, they were already fused so we were good to go.

Then I started having my major knee pain and my legs didn't have the strength to push him into the canter.  (And believe me ... it took a lot of push.)    I had surgery last fall and my legs are starting to have the strength to push him where I need.   Of course, now its been so long since I've cantered and since the last canters I had with Golly were lets say... explosive.... I'm a little chicken.

My instructor working very hard to get and keep the canter
But I want to do this and frankly its embarrassing that we are still doing Intro tests.   Its so embarrassing that I didn't do any tests last year except for the one I did as a team.  Plus we get good enough scores that we shouldn't be doing that level anyway.   BUT... we can't canter so that keeps us out of the Training level tests.

So... I've set my mind to it.  Its the theme of at least most of our lessons and schooling rides until we get this. For my last lesson, my instructor rode him most of the ride and got a good half hour of cantering in.  It wasn't beautiful and she worked her tail off.  But they cantered.  

I lunged him at the canter two days later.  And then during our schooling ride yesterday he was relaxed and happy and trotting so nice, I asked for a canter with a gentle aid and I got it!!!   Granted it was the wrong lead but at least he responded and since it was on a straight line I didn't worry too much about the wrong lead.

I plan on visiting a friend's farm soon to ride one of their lesson horses at the canter to remind myself we can do it and my instructor will be working hard again this week to get that canter moving.  I can tell you that when we go down the centerline after our first test with a canter... you will see both tears and a big goofy grin on my face.

I'll let you know how it goes...

1 comment:

  1. Good luck with the canter, I'm sure you'll get it soon! X


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