Friday 28 April 2017

Adventures in HJ Land - Part 4

Week 1, Weeks 2 & 3

Week 4:
I was riding Donny yet again. We didn't do any jumping this week but I did learn two cool new exercises that I think I'm going to try out with my own mare:

Donny ready to go

1: Posting Canter - this is something that I had never done before or even heard of. It's where you post the canter kind of like you would do for the trot, but with one beat down and two beats up, in time with the canter. Because it was such a foreign concept to me it took me a while to get the feel of it. First I was going too fast, and then too slow. Even by the end, I was getting the rhythm more than half the time but I would still regularly lose it for a few strides before figuring it out. Kt explained that this exercise has a number of benefits:
- giving riders a good feel for the rhythm of the canter so they can continue to move their legs with the canter once they start doing more two-point
- preventing riders from getting stiff in their position at the canter
- influencing the horse's canter tempo, the same way you can regulate trot tempo with posting
- is kind of an in-between between sitting and two-point so allows the rider to sit to influence the horse but then quickly get back off their back
- good for building leg muscles
It gave me a totally different feel for the canter rhythm than I normally have because it forced me to really pay attention to the speed and part of the stride. I think this is the part that will help with Kachina because she sometimes seems to have an odd canter rhythm (sometimes lateral steps, and sometimes she feels like she's on the opposite lead to what she actually is), I think paying attention to her stride differently by trying to post it might help me figure out what's going on beneath me and when I need to make a change.

Since I fail at getting any more related media you get a photo of this disgruntled
"driver" that I pulled up next to when I stopped at a convenience store
Not sure if it's funny to anyone else, but I was laughing

2. Count Down Trot-Canter Transitions - I don't know if there is a better name for this, but the exercise where you do 10 strides of trot, 10 strides of canter, 9 strides of trot, 9 strides of canter.... until you get down to a predetermined number (we stopped after 5 of each). I'm familiar with this exercise, and have done it at the walk and trot before, but never at the trot and canter. This is the type of thing that was excellent to practice on a lesson horse so I could get a feel for it before trying it on Kachina. When I started the exercise I was counting the number of strides of trot, but then it would take an extra couple strides to get the transition before I restarted the count at canter. As time went on I got better at getting the transition when I wanted it. It was a really neat feeling because it wasn't causing me to anticipate the transition, just know when to ask for it. Generally, if I tell myself I want a canter at a certain point, like letter K, I will end up tensing up beforehand and Kachina will anticipate and then we either get running or a late transition as I take time to rebalance her. With the stride counting, I wasn't changing anything in the strides beforehand, I was just mentally preparing and then making it happen as I counted "...and 10". I'm not sure how much sense that makes when I write it, but I could feel Donny respond to me better and I think it's a feeling I can probably reproduce with Kachina. I also found it a great way to get a good understanding of the tempo difference between trot and canter. I initially found myself struggling to fix the speed of counting in my head between trot (faster) and canter (slower), but when I figured out the count in my head, I could feel it more clearly in my body. I don't think Kachina is ready yet to work down to 5 and 5 strides, but I think spending some time on trot-canter transitions every 10 strides will be really good for both of us right now.

This was my last scheduled lesson with Kt and Donny. Next week I start another month of HJ lessons with N at a different barn. So far I'm glad I decided to do these HJ lessons. I think there is a lot you can learn from every discipline and I've been having fun while getting a different take on how I approach my rides.


  1. I may steal that count down idea for my next ride where I focus on transitions. It sounds really interesting and definitely changes things up. Doing the same exercises can be boring at times so I'm always on the lookout for cool ideas.

  2. Posting the canter is a fun exercise, some riders use it a bit too much!

  3. Posting the canter helped me work on being comfortable with a bigger stride and pace!