Thursday, March 6, 2014

Canter, Walk, Rinse, Repeat

How many of you out there are pros at picking up the canter from the walk? How many of you can calmly walk straight out of a canter?

Probably a lot of you.

Guinness and I have never been ones to transition easily. Quality gaits? Sure! But we have to work into them. The transitions have always been a source of contention. See, he's lazy and I'm impatient. These two do not tend to work together. 

But Tuesday, we had a breakthrough. Despite both Guinness and I's moodiness and laziness, we pulled something magical out of our bag of tricks -- a canter/walk/canter transition worthy of scoring at least a 7. It was magical. It was astounding. Best of all? I think it's possible to replicate it.

So, what did we do differently?

Basically, I sat down and thought about what drives a canter --> walk transition. Collection, dur. The hind legs have to step under the horse to support his weight while he steps down into a walk. That's the only way to keep the transition light and balanced. Obviously, the amount of strength the horse must have to do this properly is ridiculous. 

Luckily, I think we're doing okay on strength.

Collection at the canter comes easily to us, but I think I haven't done a good job of properly collecting Guinness before asking for the walk. Nor have I done a good job of asking him to stay collected through the transition. I think I've been dropping him, and blocking him with my seatbones. In short, my stopping aids were clunky and my going aids weren't there.

Okay, easily fixed.

I started by cantering 10 meter circles until I felt Guinness was really rocking back and using himself well. Then, as we approached the wall on the circle, I half halted him even harder than I had been to ask for the collection. As his front legs went forward, I put on my leg aid and simultaneously asked for the downward transition with my seat.

Boom. Canter -- > walk. Balanced, lovely, happy. I can't wait to school them a little bit again tonight.

The solution was so simple, but I just couldn't see it while in the saddle. This is why I need a trainer. Is she back from Florida yet?
March Conformation Photo.
"Guys. I'm fat..."

14 comments:

  1. I haven't even schooled walk-canter because Fiction just isn't there yet :( However his canter-trot and canter-walk transitions are soft and spot on. Go figure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our canter/collected trot transitions are amazing. I've heard those are supposed to be hard.

      Horses are strange, strange individuals. :)

      Delete
  2. Your boy looks amazing! We play around with walk canter transitions - Riva seems to think this is fun - but we are miles away from schooling them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Riva has such a great attitude. :) I bet you guys are closer than you think!

      Delete
  3. I think that is one of the most difficult transitions for people to "get." My biggest problem with those was not keeping the forward momentum through the transition. So I think canter ... canter ... walk ON. Otherwise, my horse tends to shut down a bit right after the transition. Also - I am sure you know this - but eventually you will need to be able to do them on a straight line for your tests. :) Try to get away from using circles and walls when you can! (I used them too in the beginning). Great work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! Great comment!

      I totally sympathize with lack of forward momentum. I have a hard time remembering to keep my legs on during downward transitions. I know I need to, but for a split second I forget. Ack!

      Delete
  4. Those breakthroughs are fabulous aren't they. I remember working so hard to get the concept it felt impossible. Now they are the simplest thing in the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love it when that transformation happens! Hopefully we can keep them easy ...

      Delete
  5. Ramone is so gangbusters walk to canter. It's the trot to canter that I have completely neglected. Trying to fix that shit now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For some reason the phrase "Ramone is so gangbusters" cracked me up so hard. :)

      Delete
  6. Sounds like a GREAT ride. I love it when everything clicks like that!

    ReplyDelete