Canter, Rythym & What I Really Think

As you all may have seen the weekend just passed I brought Dante out schooling to a local indoor arena at Knightfield Stud. The weather was dreadful with the rain absolutely bucketing down, so this indoor arena was perfect.

Some inspirational words from coach Sue!

The focus today was on jumping but solely on our canter. You are all probably used to hearing me go on about the struggles I have with our canter especially when I am jumping. Trying to get that powerful controlled forward moving canter that I need is where I am struggling & to be honest I am finding it to be taking a toll on my riding. I am focusing so much on that, that I am letting other things slide & this is something I dont want to be doing.

I picked up some fantastic tips during this lesson, keep scrolling to find how we got on & more importantly where my head is right now with everything…

Rising In The Canter

This was done to focus more on getting that forward moving “jumping canter”. I find that when I am cantering I am focusing on getting him to work in an outline, I am constantly looking at his head instead of to where I am going and forgetting that the forward movement is what I actually need, not the stuck, tension, slow paced canter that might look pretty but certainly is not beneficial to us when we go to jump.

So away I went with rising in the canter doing laps of the arena. By rising canter I mean I was rising in my stirrups with every canter stride Dante took. This gets me up off Dante’s back encouraging him to push forward for that longer strided canter. I will include that anytime we came out of canter it was always a transition down to walk (as best as I could!) As we got to grips with this we started to introduce another component to this exercise.

Walk to canter transitions. We ran into trouble here as on our strike off, Dante kept striking off on the leg that was more comfortable for him, or he would run through a walk/trot and jump into canter. With some frustration, we got there in the end. But remaining calm yourself in the saddle, taking your time and remembering your aids.

Do keep in mind that Sue is very adamant that you do not need a corner to pick up canter, you should be able to ask at any point in the arena!

The Benefits

  • Getting that forward moving canter that you need prior to jumping 
  • Having to maintain a constant contact in your upward transitions
  • Gets Dante moving of my leg more prior to jumping 

Counting Strides

3,2,1 and jump. Yes I am that person you hear before you see on approach to a fence! This was a habit I picked up a while ago, one that I am now struggling to get rid of. Counting into fences, well it basically tells me that I am deciding the jump off point for Dante that I have to be the main control of how Dante does things when this should NOT be the case at all. 

Sue noticed this habit, and well has a mission of getting me to count basically every single stride Dante was taking (in canter) on my approach to a fence, the minute I picked up canter, she had me counting 1,2,3! Not 3,2,1 this was extremely weird to begin with but after seeing the rewards of this exercise I was pleasantly surprised.

Counting while your moving really makes u realise how much you need to breathe properly!

The Benefits

  • I was approaching fences without having to do much work, I was letting Dante do it for himself
  • I was not interfering with him head with my hands as I was too busy counting 
  • Believe it or not speaking as you ride is very painful but it making you sit up, you have to use your lungs to shout and doing that as your slouching is next to impossible, go on give it a go!

What I Learned

I have Mentioned above the benefits from each of the above exercises. Moving forward they will be introduced into my warm up routines prior to jumping as best as I can. But with the benefits listed above you must be thinking why I have a section dedicated to What I learned? To say I learned a lot in this lesson is an understatement Sue is Fantastic! What I learned about myself was a bit of a shocking eye opener.

I have an extremely honest horse, one that is way to honest for his own good. He would jump something from a standstill for me if I asked him, but after this lesson while I was delighted with his progress and with what we jumped, something just stuck in my head that I was just not capable. I felt unsure, nervous & slightly on edge, I don’t really know why either. It could of been that bad jump we had over the triple bar it could of been the frustration of not getting the correct canter lead but we stuck at everything & achieved overcame everything we got wrong & got them spot on.

I have high hopes of jumping 1.10/1.20m tracks on this horse, I am sure he could even go bigger he has so much scope. He is more than capable & I have jumped that height on him before having fun at home, but there just seems that something is holding me back. It is annoying me that I can’t put my finger on it but that the thought is in my head. I know that I need more work and that my flatwork is sloppy, but I also know that it all takes time to come together. Have any of you ever had this feeling before? That you are simply just not good enough for something? While I am definately not looking for pity I am blindly spending my time focusing on something I dont know is missing instead of just having fun& enjoying this unbelievable horse I have.

While I don’t mean to end this post with such grim thoughts, I can’t help but be honest in the way I am thinking. I am doing lessons here & there but I don’t feel an improvement in what I am doing, I feel as if I am going around in circles that I am stuck in a rut.

It certainly is not going to stop me from doing what I love on my horse, I will continue on with my lessons & what I am learning. As a famous fish once said “just keep swimming” I myself will keep battling on.

Maybe just maybe I need to stop being so hard on myself. Getting out of the arena & getting my head away from focusing on all the technical stuff is more than likely all I need.

I didn’t speak much about out jumping in this post, but if you check out our YouTube channel you will get a glimpse of what we covered. (Linked below!) The venue we visited Knightfield Stud is also featured, it is certainly worth the trip for a schooling session, I don’t think anyone can say no to schooling in an indoor especially during the winter months!

As always, thanks for reading,

Until Next time,