Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Call me chicken

Cute chicken picture

For the record, the cute chicken picture was not taken by me. It came from my favorite stock photography site, stock.xchng, which offers a pretty good selection of copyright-free photographs you can use on your blog and other publications. I don't normally borrow other people's photographs for my blog posts, even when it is perfectly legitimate; but I don't have access to cute chickens I can photograph, and I desperately wanted a chicken picture for today's post.

Anyway, I had my session with my trainer today, but I utterly failed to canter. My trainer was happy with my improvement in leg control, and was giving me some tips in preparation for cantering, but the more she talked about it the faster my heart rate went.

To try to make me feel better, she got on and cantered Panama a few times, just to make sure he was behaving himself — it's been months since he's cantered under saddle. He was fine, so I got back on, but then Panama was excited and kept trying to go fasterfasterfaster, so I rode him around a bit to get him to stop expecting the canter.

And then I rode him around a bit more.

Finally, my trainer said I was stalling (and I admit it, I was), and gave us something else to do: ground poles. She set up three ground poles on the ground, parallel to one another, and had me walk Panama over them. Then we trotted, which was fun and kind of bouncy when he lifted his feet really high to clear the poles! Next she set the middle pole up on top of a tire on each end, and had me trot him over them.

That last setup took Panama a few times to figure out. The first time he plowed right through it (the pole is PVC and pretty forgiving). After that he started figuring out how high he needed to lift his feet to clear it. The last couple of times he did quite well, and my trainer seemed pleased.

Of course, when I got home I went from being happy about the ground poles, to being extremely disappointed with myself for caving to my fear of cantering. I don't know why I'm so afraid of it — it's not like I've never cantered before. I just haven't cantered intentionally on Panama before. Plus, my seat and leg strength are way better than they were the last time I cantered on a horse.

But I'm still scared.

My trainer says I'm over thinking it, and I agree. I've built it up in my mind to being this frightening, dangerous thing. The question is now, how do I get over the hurdle when I've created most of it myself?


At July 29, 2009 at 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think about going from trot to canter as not going faster but just changing the rhythm from 1-2 1-2 to 1-2-3 1-2-3, things become much easier! So it can't be scary, right?

At July 29, 2009 at 8:52 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Kate, I briefly thought about what you'd said in your clinic posts about rhythm, but it was after I'd already scared myself into freezing up. :o) But I'll try to "reprogram" myself to think about it like that, and perhaps I can prevent freezing up like that again. Thanks!

At July 30, 2009 at 5:07 PM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

Hey, if I can do it so can you! yes, it is scary at first, I cantered first in a round pen because it felt safer in there. But it wasn't long until I wanted out of the round pen in the open. You can do it, I know you can!!
(besides you have a shorter horse and you are younger! LOL) :-)
~Jane and Gilly~

At July 30, 2009 at 7:19 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Jane! :o) We don't have a round pen or arena available, but the "pasture" we're riding in is on the smaller side, maybe half an acre. My trainer said that if he's running away I can steer him into a corner to force him to stop. Not that I really like talking about being on a runaway horse... ;o)

At July 31, 2009 at 12:54 PM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

Well, you could just canter a few strides then ask for a stop. That way he will not start building up speed. and go in a circle, that's what I did with Gilly at first outside the round pen.
~Jane and Gilly~

At July 31, 2009 at 1:42 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...


Yup, that's what my trainer is going to have me do -- just a few strides at a time to start.

At July 31, 2009 at 4:00 PM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

Good that will help you feel confident when you start small and work your way to longer canters. That worked for me.
~Jane and Gilly~


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