Okay, riding obsessed friends, let me tell you about our canter work and you can help me improve my riding! We’ve been working on trot/canter transitions. In the past, while trotting along I’ve squeezed with my legs and Baron thought I was asking him to trot faster. After a couple rides where we worked just on that, he understands that squeezing my legs during the trot means I’m asking for a canter. Pictures are courtesy of my 5 year old daughter who took video and snapped some still pics with my camera.
He’s a fast learner. He really listens and tries to figure out what I’m asking him to do. I’m always amazed at what a willing worker he is. And he loves to canter! He prefers a fast, spread out, ground covering, exuberant canter and I prefer something a bit more sedate, but we’re learning to communicate and meet in the middle. He’s actually cantering very well. In just a couple rides, he’s gone from a fast, kind of spastic canter to moving in a collected, round way. I know these pictures aren’t great, because you’re looking through round pen panels; that’s what you get when your photographer is a 5 year old. But look how round he is!
I’m finding that I’m able to sit his canter now, where in the past I always rode it in half seat. I’m becoming a better rider, but he’s also giving me a much nicer gait to sit. He doesn’t feel like he’s about to explode anymore.
Here’s the part you can help me with. When I squeeze and ask for the canter, he usually gives me a few fast trot steps and then a canter. How can I get a quicker, smoother transition?
In the picture above, I’m signaling for the canter by squeezing with my leg. My heel has come up, and my hand is up because I’m grabbing mane. I still do, just in case. I’m wondering about his head in the picture. He has long periods where his head is down, like long and low, and then it comes back up. I don’t know if that’s something I’m doing wrong or if he just doesn’t have the muscle strength to work correctly for a longer period. He is so skinny, always, no matter what I feed him. He is starting to develop more of a topline though and I hope he can build some muscle this winter with more regular rides.
Finally, here’s a fun picture of the dismount. I look like a graceful gazelle in this one!