Friday, July 10, 2015

canter the horse and jump the fence. simple right?

First off - thank you to everyone who commented on yesterday's post. My friend read it all and felt so much better knowing that it's apparently a pretty relate-able feeling and that really, the trainer was out of line. Some things are just better left unsaid! 

this about sums it up.
In any case, moving right on along to our regularly scheduled programming!

The exercise in this week's lesson can be summed up pretty nicely by the title of this post. Simplicity in design: a line of three fences, measured for an average 3-to-3 strides. Verticals for the in and out jumps, and a square oxer in the center that stayed relatively low but grew in width with each iteration.


Wick was very confused by that brown pole on top the first time through
We went back and forth through this a couple times after warming up on our own (it was just me and B in this lesson, as barn mate Kaitlyn is still dealing with her horse's eye ulcer). 

And actually, about that warm up - it was an odd change of pace warming up on our own, since my last couple lessons with Dan have been privates wherein we drilled into the flat work (esp that damn canter). So it was kinda strange to just go do our thang while he set fences - only hearing a solitary comment that the canter is looking better. I'll take it!



the "V" poles made another appearance toward the end of the lesson
Presumably by saying the striding was 'average,' Dan meant that it wasn't full competition length. Which I understood as 'no chasing Isabel through the lines!' (a favorite pastime of mine)


Our first few times through were mostly uneventful. The striding was easy so I just needed to land from the center oxer and balance to make sure the second 3 fit (since we tended to stretch out a little down the line, plus with the ever-widening oxer it got a little tight).

there i go jumping the fence for her w my upper body!
It got a little dicier when we came through in the other direction (left lead now) and I kept whiffing the turn to get chippy distances to the vertical in. Once we chipped in so badly I considered adding a 4th stride, but then went for the oxer anyway... and really still can not believe Isabel actually jumped. It was heinous and how she managed to avoid landing right smack in the center of the oxer is unclear lol.

After we pulled out of the line and halted (wherein I apologized to Isabel very sincerely and asked her to please not hold a grudge), I asked Dan if I should add a stride when we jump in so tightly. He was a little bit lost for words, so I changed tack and said 'or maybe we just shouldn't jump from that distance?' Ding ding ding - correct answer Emma!


i like it when my shirt matches the jumps lol
He pointed out that it was (again, as always and forever amen) all about our canter. If we have the right canter we should be adjustable enough to jump from anywhere and have more flexibility in our approach to the jump. Those awful distances straight up can not happen when we have a properly established canter. 

It can be tricky with Isabel bc she's so short-coupled, packaging her together is really a bit different from a sprawled out TB. She's already quite compressed. So I need to be able to hold her together - but NOT with my reins. In fact he spent the whole ride telling me to let go (per usual) and specifically saying that Isabel's nose needed to poke out a little bit. 

still building up to the "V" poles here
So in order to establish this canter, we followed the same pattern for each turn: 
  • walk to canter transition (which Isabel kept anticipating and trying to rush into, negating the organized and collected push forward that I wanted to achieve... thus requiring patience and persistence each and every time). Dan wanted a sharp and organized transition, meaning the walk itself had to be organized first too.
  • tiny canter circle around a poor stranded barn rat who was just trying to ride her damn horse while we circled endlessly around her
  • then spiral out to the jumps once the canter felt ready

The purpose of this small canter circle was to force me to LET GO of the reins and just keep adding more and more and more and MORE leg (outside, inside, all the sides!) to get Isabel's hind legs under her and feel her 'sitting' more into the canter. 

Honestly sometimes it felt more like I was careening around on a dirt bike... but towards the end of the lesson I could identify the moment in our circle where things got better and we were ready to move on to the line. Plus I kept our recent lesson with trainer C at the forefront of my mind and tried to step more into my inside leg. It definitely helped!


And the line was a piece of cake after that. Go figure lol. 


One of these days I will commit the feeling of this canter to memory... Or rather, it's not so much that I can't tell when our canter is good, but that I have trouble knowing when it's too flat. The jumps are our litmus test right now: when we start getting chippy or gappy, that's a pretty solid indicator that things aren't quite right. But eventually I'd like to know *before* we actually reach the jump!


22 comments:

  1. Oh the elusive magic canter! I know what it feels like, but sometimes I just don't know what to do to get it! We had a very similar lesson last night. It's amazing to me how much you don't have to do as far as adjustment, etc. when you just have the right canter. Everything is just so EASY when you've got that part down!

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    1. that's the big problem right? when we're there it's great, but how to get there??? all i want to do is pull pull pull (regardless of the fact that you can't pull a horse's shoulders up with the reins, i still try!) and it just never really works out for us haha.

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  2. Ah, yes.... I struggle daily to find the *right* canter! I feel your pain! ;)

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    1. lol it's a never ending battle...

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  3. If it makes you feel any better, the best quote from my lesson last night was "He goes really well when you just RIDE him". Touche...

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    1. ugh yea... i guess some lessons are just like this!

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  4. Hahahah I am still dying from the taco turtle photo!

    Sounds like an awesome lesson!

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    1. lol that leader pic is absolutely one of my favorites!

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  5. Oh the canter... ha. We need to work on that.

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    1. it's a surprisingly problematic gait

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  6. This is why I haven't been jumping because of the magic canter lol

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    1. right? it's almost infuriating how effortless everything can look when it's right... and yet it's so difficult to get it right!

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  7. let's just always trot everything ever. walking and cantering are hard!

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    1. omg nooooooo trotting is so much harder tho - esp trotting fences lol! i didn't even mention that part of the lesson bc it was such a fail. i can get isabel through a bn cross country course but i can't trot a crossrail... wtf!! haha

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  8. I often get stuck on the motorbike circles, I'll have to try really stepping into inside heel and get a better feel like you said!

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    1. It's really a distinct difference when i can weight that inside leg - like it almost gives Isabel something to push off of

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  9. I love all your gif images! You are both looking really good, definitely hard to get that *perfect* canter

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    1. Thanks!! That canter.... ONE day I will be master of a well developed canter. One day!!

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  10. I just had a lesson where the instructor said "feel his hip lower" and I got this immediate image of Pig squatting down with his hip, and I just sort of replicated what I wanted him to do with my own hip and he lowered and pushed and a magic canter appeared.

    It's elusive.

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    1. Interesting thought!! I will have to look for that feeling next time. It might currently be beyond my current levels of coordination (since my hips aren't exactly doing their job either yet) but I will try!

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  11. That gif is nuts!! In a good way of course!! You guys look great! That sounds like a great exercise to try out- will keep that in my memory bank!

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    1. thanks - it was definitely fun. and not really too difficult to set up either, just a straight line of jumping :)

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