cross bred andalusian mare
Every Day Training

Pictures As Promised

Here’s where she is in the training.

Or, full disclosure, here’s where she is for 3 seconds in the training!
horse trotting through corner

The canter is really coming along, which is so encouraging!  Right now our problem is to stay within the set tempo.

Earlier, she’d rather not bother to canter much at all.  Now, she’s gotten stronger and rounder over her back, and has decided it should be done with gusto, faster and faster.  Or yeah, not-at-all-thank-you-very-much-I’m-stopping-alltogether-now.

gray dressage horse cantering

Have to regulate it just right.  Last week, that seemed like it would take forever.  She hated it.  Then Friday I tried some (almost) serpentine work just for kicks and she stayed so soft and controlled through the turn on both leads.

Thrilled with her!  Paying NO attention to transitions that time.  Would have been too much…

trotting with young horse

improving trot on diagonal

Trying to leg yield both to, and away from, the rail.  Sometimes it works.

starting leg yield with young horse

Another great thing (but at the same time challenging for now.) is a huge amount of blow/snorting during the canter.  She used to be quiet, never breathing all the way through, not truly releasing and giving the feeling she was working in it.

Several rides she’s done so much relaxing and blowing that we completely fall apart and have to start over.  Very good problem to have!  Just need to figure out how to allow it to happen and carry on, earlier.

Fun times!

cross bred andalusian mare

transitions to improve the canter
Every Day Training

When The Canter Doesn’t Improve As Planned

Last week, several of those rides where I seriously considered the sanity in doing this.

Backing and training a young horse, spending endless time effort and resources on getting her to be a decent citizen.  All the while having so many things go wrong.  Some days she still feels barely greenbroke.

Then a ride here and there will be a giant step forward, and it all seems worth it.

Lately, the canter has been a major sticking point.  Getting worse.  Irregular, fourbeat, sticky, hesitant, tight, low, crabby, small, you name it.  Definitely not improving.

low to the ground canter

This is not it

tight canter

Not this either

Just like you, I’ve tried all sorts of ways to help create a more free-flowing, ground winning, basic canter.  How hard can it be, right?!  She doesn’t care.  We Crab-Canter on…

improving the canter

With spurs…

four beat canter

No spurs…

no stirrups in canter

No stirrups, it’s all the same…

No wait, I actually really like her right there above, but it doesn’t last for long.  Then she dives down again, looses rhythm, or canters like a Weiner dog.

very uphill canter

Of course it’s completely fair to compare her to Spanish Super Star, Top International, Cardenas bred, Fuego… Here in Kentucky.

On her own, it’s a bit better sometimes.  If you don’t love to be greeted like this (And all for a cookie, really!?…) then something is wrong.

horse cantering uphill in pasture

Uphill, in pasture

End of post.  No major reveal at the end.  But this should all make you feel a lot better about whatever sticky situation you’re dealing with.  At least you got this down!

Continuing the slow death of Short Stabby Strides.  I’ll let you know when we get through this.  🙂  Have an awesome Monday!

transitions to improve the canter

staying upright in canter
Every Day Training

Collapsing The Ribcage

You’re not alone.

Of course.

No one comes into riding with a perfectly symmetrically aligned body.  Just like the horse, we have a softer and a stiffer side.  Not necessarily related to right or left-handedness.

There, sounds better just saying it out loud, doesn’t it?  We are all a work in progress.

staying upright

My friend Helena came out while I was riding Gandolf – I got a snippet of film in trot and canter.  I rarely really get to see what’s actually happening, but yep, left side of the ribcage still collapses in a little on me when going in that direction.
Collapsing the ribcage to the left

This was SO valuable to see!  (Thank you thank you thank you Helena!)  Thinking this is a part of the struggle with my young mare – helping her straighten up her inside shoulder is not going to happen if I’m weighting it at the same time!

Still in canter, better here:

Apple Butt Gandolf

Apple Butt Gandolf :-*

Now, need to figure out how to level the torso without any visuals or help from the ground.  A shish kabob stick lined up there should do the trick.  Bit dangerous during bucking though.

Also helpful was seeing how Gandolf swings his haunches out on the circle.  Instead of “yielding his withers” for the inside leg, he just sort of slides the hind out.  I feel it, of course, but seeing it in motion was great.

swinging haunches

Next scheme, bribing my youngest to film at least twice during summer break.  Thought about using a twitch on him, but then he gets so noisy and just starts to shake the phone.  Bribe will have to do.

Elinor Yee
Clinics & Shows

Canter Shots As Promised

Doing our best.

(Right now, this is it.)

Canter Training Level 2

Valiosa, almost 5, at Training Level.  Showing is very humbling, isn’t it?  But so fun!

Especially if things feel like they can keep improving a little bit throughout the year.

Valiosa 4 years old

Sorry, these pictures take such a long time to load.

Canter Training Level 3

OK, off for saddle fitting this morning.  Hopefully she hasn’t outgrown this tree!


cantering the green horse
Every Day Training

Riding The Less Than Perfect Canter

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.

cantering without falling on the forehand

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.

November canter

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.

using the inside hind in canter

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.

December canter

December Ostrich Canter

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.

March canter

Next up is to improve on that!

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!

Easter Canter

"Elinor Yee"
Every Day Training

Easter 2016

posting trot

Here’s to a quiet Easter Weekend for all!

Here’s to a long spring.  Please be a long spring!  No one is ready for summer just yet…

Here’s to hoping your family is healthy, your horses sound, and your tack clean.  (Right.)


Valiosa, at 4 1/2 years, slowly increasing muscle.

Valiosa Easter 2016

The canter has been a challenge for her.  For us.  I’ll have to write a separate post on it later.  If you’re riding a horse with a less than naturally gifted canter,  you’ll feel right at home.

Here, I’m so absolutely pleased with her!  She’s stepping under, staying forward, not scrambling, and no one is clamping down.  (That’d be me.)  Wonderful little mare!

Easter Canter

The back pasture, for perhaps two more weeks, so beautiful it hurts.

Easter Trot

Photo bomb provided by my son.  Thank you for blowing a morning of spring break for me!

Elinor Yee
Every Day Training

So lucky!

Just can wait to get out to the barn some days!

SO happy with my little pokey mare.  Thrilled that she’s developing a bit, and that she is actually, slowly, coming along.  Although pokey…

Getting her canter to look like this, no matter how briefly, has been very hard work.

Winter canter

She’s not handing anything to me for free, – especially not the canter.  Or the trot.  Or, you know, the bend.

Yes, she has issues.  Yes, I often have to tell my self to accept her for what she is.  Yes, I never forget that this is a wonderful and fun challenge to train with her on my own.

She’s a little gem!  I know I am lucky to have her, to be at Twisted Oak Ranch, and to have good friends there.

If we go together like this, a second or two, it’s all worth it:

Valiosa Twisted Oak Ranch

The start-up plan was to make her a nice easy mare, with good scores at 2nd level.  Very ambitious on my part.  If I can do this, so can you!

Will we make it one day?  Who knows, but it’s really fun along the way!  And she’s become a wonderful friend, too.  What more could I ask!?

Thank you SO much for taking time out of your day to check in on us.

Hugs, Elinor