And Enjoying It!
Training a young horse to canter in good rhythm and tempo, balanced, with a decent transition both up to canter and back down to trot is a big job.
Especially if you’re having to correct your own position over and over, give less than stellar aids sometimes, and if your little steam engine horse happens to come with a less than gifted canter gait.
For a very long time, I’d just sort of test out the canter sometimes with Valiosa, trying to ignore the strange transitions and just follow along with her as much as possible.
It was too early to try any of the work I used to do with Cooper. (From The Canter Chronicles Part 3 in earlier posts.) He mostly wanted to really bomb around. Up transitions were very obedient, back down to trot often with tension.
With Valiosa, she’s still not confirmed in the up transition, and while she’s a lot better balanced than Cooper, I had to work much more on the forward. She could easily fall down on her forehand and lose the canter completely.
These shots were in November. I kept wondering when it was going to feel better, more together. Lunging to help her sort it out on her own too of course, but the side reins never really seemed “just right” in any position. I always liked her canter on the lunge line better without them.
In December I did a shorter period where I stopped the sort of light seat canter, really sat down on her and cantered with solid contact, thinking about almost “lifting” her up in the shoulders.
She’d dive down so deep and awkwardly it’d feel to both of us that she just couldn’t canter on. And then of course she couldn’t. Riding her up, nose straight out, paved the way for a canter a bit less on the forehand. For very short periods.
The canter is just a bit better now, softer and more comfortable. It’s been so fun to do this together with her and feeling some improvement!
Her signature move is to become short necked, and take way too small little crab steps with the hinds.
She’s a fun girl! Low free jumping has also helped with it all.
I do little canter work under saddle with her, but she feels very honest in trying to figure it all out each time! Feel free to chime in with your favorite Green Horse Canter Tip!