Cantering Fools

Was able to catch two rides in the past two days with one of them being a lesson. Don’t know what lit the fire under the big boy’s bottom, but he has been a cantering fool the past two rides even when not asked to canter. It is hard to complain too much because it is really becoming a balanced canter with a nice rocking horse motion. Ike is learning to use his back, engage the hind end, and lift the withers with each stride. Instead of four independently moving legs with a body and head attached, we have a cohesive unit with parts working together.  It has been months since my knee has been in danger of meeting the fence.

Ms. C noticed that his canter is better at the start of the lesson. She said that he still doesn’t have the strength and stamina of an older horse, so we work with him to get the most from what he can offer at this point in his development. We work on our canter transitions, circles, and stamina towards the beginning of the lesson and then move on to our stretch down trot work. It is evident that Ike doesn’t completely understand what I’m asking for in the stretch down trot. When I offered my hands forward, he snatched the reins, dropped his head and picked up speed. Half halt! Half halt! And he is still motoring along. HALF HALT! Oh, you were talking to me? Yes Ike, I was. And let me just say again that the people who wrote the dressage tests are evil geniuses. It used to be that the stretch down trot did not appear until Test 3…now, there it is looming in Test 1…and Test 2…and Test 3. Can’t escape it, so we will half halt our way around the circle and hope for the best until Ike develops a better understanding. My crystal ball predicts a 5 for our first attempt. I will let you know on June 17th what the actual score turns out to be. Hoping that the canter will be stronger than it was in April so that we don’t take the hit for the wrong lead, a wobbly circle, an unbalanced down transition, and in our collective submission score. Sheesh, one little bobble can really add up.

I’m also attempting to fix my position while cantering.  Yes, I know I need to sit back and I say it over and over in my head as I’m riding.  I also have the tendency to let the reins get a tad too long which probably contributes to our unbalanced down transitions because Ike has no support from me.  You can almost hear Ike asking, “Where are you to help me?”  I’m too busy sitting tall with a relaxed seat and watching for the fence while trying to maintain a proper 20 meter circle.  Thank goodness he is forgiving.

We did one practice load today.  Last time we practiced was Wednesday.  Ike was again a superstar and walked right into the trailer.  Fingers crossed that it will be as easy on June 3rd.

Hot weekend ahead – high 80s predicted, so we will ride early to beat the heat.  Hoping that the greenheaded flies decide to sleep in so we can avoid them as well.


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