Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yesterday's lesson: I cantered!

I had a fantastic lesson yesterday. As usual, I forgot to take pictures, so you'll have to make do with my eloquent prose (ha ha).

But first of all, another update on my leg. When I woke up yesterday morning, the swelling was nearly gone and my mobility was mostly back, so I decided to go through with my lesson. Walking around the pasture wasn't a problem, and although I was still moving slightly slower than usual, the movement seemed to loosen up the tight, bruised muscle a bit. And when I mounted for my lesson, I discovered that it didn't hurt at all — not even posting or two-point — presumably because all of my weight was off the outside of my thigh and knee, where the injury is.

Once I'd confirmed I could ride without any pain (at all!), and once I'd practiced my two-point for a little while, my trainer asked me to do the speed-up-slow-down exercise. The first time, Panama didn't seem to get it, so the next time I asked a bit "louder."

And he cantered.

I totally wasn't expecting it, and it took a stride or two before I even realized. I stayed in my two-point for several strides, basically until I started asking him to slow down. (I was thinking at that point, "sit back," but I did a clumsy job of it and loosened up more than I should have.) Meanwhile, my trainer was behind me, cheering and laughing.

And with that, the canter barrier was broken. (I've been thinking more and more about trying it, but I just never get around to suggesting it during the lesson.) My trainer had me try it again, but this time my legs were tired and I was expecting it and I didn't do so well. I totally lost my two-point, bounced around in the saddle awkwardly a few times (Panama put one ear back as if to ask, "What the heck are you doing back there, Mom?"), and then awkwardly transitioned to a walk.

We decided to try one more time, but first I got a drink and let my legs rest a moment. Then when Panama and I went back out, he was expecting the canter and wouldn't slow down his trot. So I walked him around the pasture a couple of times, and when I quietly asked for the trot I got a nice, controlled one. Then we rounded the corner, passed in front of my trainer, and I asked for the canter.

This time wasn't too bad. I lost my two-point after two strides, but this time I sat back and moved with Panama instead of bouncing around in the saddle. My trainer counted out four strides and then had me slow him down (a little bit at a time at first, she says). I still felt awkward about the whole thing, like I didn't do a very good job, but she seemed pleased.

I was tired and unwilling to push myself too far, just in case it was putting more strain on my leg than I realized, so I called it a day. I'm really excited about cantering, though, and I can't wait for our next lesson!



At September 19, 2009 at 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes the best things happen when we're not thinking about them - funny how that goes! I find my canter transitions go better when I think the 1-2 1-2 trot rhythm in my head and then think the 1-2-3 1-2-3 canter rhythm - that sometimes prevents the horse from simply trotting faster. Great that you're cantering now!

At September 19, 2009 at 6:06 PM, Blogger Vectormom said...

You may already know this, but when they just trot faster and string out when asking for the canter, do some half halts to control the pace, get their hocks engaged more underneath themself & the canter will come more smoothly. Congratulations on a great ride! Remember, always end on a good note even if there are more things you think you'd like to do. Don't push yourself too much. There's plenty of time to ride!

At September 19, 2009 at 9:19 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...


At September 20, 2009 at 12:28 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Kate, I've been trying to keep rhythms in my head since I read it in one of your blog posts a little while back, and it does work great!

VectorMom, I'm sure eventually just a few half halts will slow Panama down, but right now when he's excited about cantering I have to do something else with him to get him thinking again. When he gets excited his brain -- and all the training stored in it -- temporarily shuts down. :o) My trainer says once we've been cantering more regularly he'll stop getting so excited about it.

NM, thanks! I am very excited!!! :o)


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