Oh sh**. It's my fault.
|Why is this so hard?|
Canter departs on Bast have been a struggle bus. For, like, ever. The whole process of training them has been a total roller coaster, but right now I feel like they should be better than they are.
|Departs in October 2017|
When he first came home, the departs were a leap into a gallop. Not unusual for a horse newly off the track. As time went on, we began to experiment with leads and more balanced departs. While the launch has become slightly more contained, it's not yet gone. In fact, it's occasionally getting worse.
|Average departs now. (Video from March 2018)|
See, we've been struggling with picking up the correct lead. Part of this was due to left over hematoma from Bast's fence injury working out. Part was due to a lack of confirmation in lead pick up cue training. Part was ... well. Uh. Is. Um. Me.
|Me. Biffing it up.|
In a recent lesson my tendency to throw myself at my little horse in the depart was brought up. I explained that habit began when he and I started struggling to pick up the correct lead. It's not an ideal solution, and not really working. So, I'm working on fixing it.
In a recent ride, Bast began bolting off in his departs. First picking up the cross canter, then bolting into a change behind. I started experimenting with different tactics to keep this from happening.
First, I identified he was tossing out his outside shoulder and stiffening his neck or even bending to the outside. I tried just holding his inside rein and demanding he hold the bend and keep his neck flexible. However, he started just getting more explosive and still was busting out through his outside shoulder.
|Fling the head? Check. Fall on inside shoulder? Check. Bust out through outside aids? Check. Ugh.|
Instead of fiddling more, I experimented with taking my own aids out of the equation. I noticed the problem was worse to the left, so I lengthened my outside rein a touch and grabbed my pommel strap with that hand. I then asked for the canter, making sure to sit the trot a step or two and actually stay balanced and lift for the aid. Bast happily stepped right into the correct lead.
I repeated a few more times before switching directions and repeating the miracle the other way.
|Hmm. So about that...|
These results made it clear the problem is with me. I'm pretty sure I'm both restricting his motion with my hands (pulling with the outside rein) and not sitting enough in the depart so he's losing his direction part way through. Neither mistake is great, but both are fixable. I'm hoping spending more time paying attention to my own position and following hands will help us develop better departs all the time.
|A recent example of a nice depart. Let's try to make these all like this!|
Anyone else have a problem with your horse that is almost entirely your creation? I know I'm not alone out here! Let's share the hilariously wrong things we keep doing with our horses and learn from each other.