|No new media, so just going to pepper this post with progression shots of our|
canter from over the last year
This one is from June 2016
In the case of the Chinook show, there were three pretty major things that I learned only the week before the show!
(Canter was good this day, but not at reproducible stage yet)
1. Good Canter Transitions
We've been working on these forever, but it was only a week before the show that I was able to put together the feel from my HJ lessons and simulator lesson to ask for canter with only my leg and get a round balanced transition on demand. I talked about it in The Best Ride and it was a super major breakthrough
|February 2017 - Air time|
2. Determining the Correct Lead
I've been riding for twenty years, so it sounds ridiculous to say I couldn't tell when my horse was on the correct lead. The reality is though that I couldn't. I can tell what lead most horses are on, but something about Kachina's canter stumps me. I think it's a combination of the fact that she's got a pretty even canter (not big uphill or downhill movements), that she can be equally balanced/unbalanced on the correct lead vs wrong lead, that she has big air time, that her outside foreleg reaches quite far forward, and that she sometimes switches in and out of a lateral canter or a canter that has legs going in some other strange not-canter sequence. Whatever the reason, Kachina sometimes picks up the wrong lead and I couldn't reliably notice and correct it soon enough. This really killed me in a few shows last year. I did a bunch of online reading and found one article that suggested feeling for which of my legs was hanging farther forward (on the left lead, your hips will be twisted such that your left leg is further forward). I've never heard of this technique before but I tried it out two days before the show and it worked like a dream. I've been using it ever since and now I'm much more confident about which lead we are on. We ended up getting 100% of our correct leads at the show and I loved not second guessing myself in the show ring.
|March 2017 - Even (especially?) at liberty Kachina subscribes to the concept that|
leads are optional constructs that don't need to be followed
3. Staying on the Rail
Kachina will sometimes be interested in something outside the arena and will counter-bend and fall in. This is generally exacerbated at shows where there is more to look at, and we're riding more straight lines than we do at home. In my last ride before the show, there were some spooky branches hitting off the arena wall and we had the same kind of issue, so I took the opportunity to practice solving it. In the past, my technique has been to really focus on re-establishing inside bend and then using inside leg to push her out. This frequently requires me to circle to get the message through which is obviously not ideal in a test. I started experimenting with other options, playing around with both my position and hers. It turns out that I can effectively keep Kachina out on the rail by just slightly stepping on my outside stirrup. In fact, I can leg yield Kachina all the way from the 1/4 line to the rail by changing nothing else and just stepping on my outside stirrup. I was shocked at how immediately responsive Kachina was to this small change. I think that in the past I've inadvertently slightly weighted my inside stirrup while trying to get inside bend and that's why I've struggled to get her to push out. It was an eye-opening discovery for sure and one that I have been using in all sorts of situations ever since. Having a sensitive horse can be both a blessing and a curse.
I'm still proud of how well we did at the show, but it was partly just by fluke that we were able to figure out these things at the right time and make use of them when it counted.
In theory I like the idea of schooling one level above where you are showing, but I also think showing is valuable experience and there's not always a level below Training Level so for now we are showing at the top of what we are capable of.
Are you always confirmed at a level before you show, or does anyone else fly by the seat of their breeches and figure it out last minute?