Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Amanda Johnson was teaching in Western Wisconsin again on June 14th and 15th. I had done my homework with my mare Bacara and had made sure our canter was somewhat better then it was at the last clinic. I took the time to work on shoulder in, shoulder in with a counter bend, haunches in and haunches in with a counter bend on a 15 meter circle. I was able to have way more ability to adjust the canter. That was really helpful coming into this clinic. The biggest difference in this clinic was that it was away from home which allowed Amanda to see what my horse was like at a horse show. She is way higher in her energy. So with that going on - we came up with a different approach to warming her up and ultimately riding her. On the first day we really focused on honestly aligning her and not losing her shoulders to the left in the trot. We rode from quarterline to quarterline working out shoulder placement. When traveling to the right, what helped the most was shoulder-in to Renvers to Shoulder in and back again. This really aligned her body and allowed throughness and collection to take place. But when traveling to the left it was better solved by haunches in to shoulder in and back again. This trot work set us up for success in the canter. On the second day of the clinic - we started after our initial stretching, in the canter. With no trot work first she almost reared into the canter. (She does have a fair amount of stress away from home.) Amanda told me that we were going to alternate between collection and stretching her into a longer frame to warm her up. Well we did all sorts of things in that way. We did 20 meter circles 10 meter circles, half pass all with varying lengths in her neck. This calmed her down more effectively than anything I have ever come up with. So I am thinking this is a great way to ride the canter on this horse for now. In the past I had always stretched her out in the canter at the start of the ride but had never blended it like that before. I think that when she is a finished horse she will be able to come up and stay up and do all of her canter work. I guess it does not really matter if it is a strength issue now or a mental block for her. The blending sure makes a huge positive difference! The other really loud thing was I have always done my flying changes 1/2 halt, 1/2 halt and then a change request instead of a third 1/2 halt. Hmmmm crooked or on the forehand or late. . .I stand corrected the proper sequence is 1/2 halt, 1/2 halt and change. The change request is immediately following the second half halt. Yikes. . .all of these years I have not been asking at the right time. . .sigh but the good news is I was able to get the best straightest changes out of Bacara! You have to love that. She is so sensitive she tells on me every time! I did give Bacara a few days off and did play with this again on my own. I did have a little drama as she is so smart she started to think two half halts in the canter must mean change. . .I had to go random on her and do the collected canter, stretchy canter and collected canter and then I could slip in a really nice good clean change that did not get light in front or backed off in any way. But this playing with the canter frame and balance is truly going to be homework for both of us as we feel our way through it. We also did quite a bit of work on 1/2 steps on the second day. Bacara seems to have a natural ability in this area. I figured out that it is best to approach at least for now from the trot. She comes into the 1/2 steps really well if she is honestly in front of my leg. If she is at all behind my leg, she will be irregular in the 1/2 steps. It looks like I have new homework this month but I am looking forward to playing with everything I have learned this past weekend.