Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We're definitely cantering now

Today I went out to the barn and rode Panama for the first time since before we left on our vacation (more on that in another post). Although I didn't ride for very long — perhaps 20 or 30 minutes at most — I did something I haven't done before: I cantered all by myself, without my trainer present.

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that is a big deal for me. While we were training Panama, I developed a fear of cantering, despite the fact that I did it without fear (or falling) as a kid. I'm not sure why exactly I developed this fear, but I think the fact that I fell off of Panama a few times when he bolted as a greenie probably had something to do with it. It has taken me two years to overcome this fear — both last summer and the summer before, I got to the point where I was just starting to canter, but something always happened to prevent me from progressing any further... and getting over my fear.

The last few months, I've been cantering, but only when my trainer made me. I hadn't yet worked up the nerve to do it without her, either. It was only the last few lessons, when I could feel that Panama and I were both getting better, that I finally started thinking that maybe I was ready. My trainer told me after our last lesson that I didn't seem afraid anymore, and laughed about me nonchalantly transferring both reins to one hand to push up my glasses at the canter — something I would never have done before.

After today, I think it is safe to say that I have finally overcome my fear of cantering. In a way, it was cantering by myself that did it, as if it proved something to that part of me that was still a little afraid. We cantered a couple of times in each direction, several times around the arena each time, which is a huge deal for us — and I was confident enough to actually look in the mirrors to check my form as we went by! (Again, something I wouldn't have — or couldn't have — done before.) I doubt I look very good at the canter, as I feel like I am still coming out of the saddle a little bit too much, but I am at least starting to catch the rhythm in my upper body.

My sudden breakthrough has impeccable timing — my show is this weekend! I can't write about that much right now, or I'll start getting nervous, so instead I'll start preparing a post about the fun little vacation we just got back from. Stay tuned!



At June 16, 2010 at 11:12 PM, Blogger Sydney_bitless said...

Way to go!

At June 16, 2010 at 11:23 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Thanks Sydney! :o)

At June 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

It can take years to get comfortable at the canter. I think my breakthrough was when someone gave me a funny look and said, "The canter is way more comfortable than the trot. If you can sit out the trot, you can handle the canter." She was right. If you are pushing up your glasses instead of white-knuckling the reins, you're doing great.

At June 17, 2010 at 10:40 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I'm still not perfectly comfortable, but yesterday was leaps and bounds from where I was. Funny that your breakthrough was from something someone said, whereas mine was from doing it. I wonder what that says about our different riding styles? Certainly not that my fear wasn't psychological, as I know very well that it was.

At June 17, 2010 at 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cantering is fun! Glad it's getting easier for you - I'll bet Panama is happy, too!

At June 19, 2010 at 7:02 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Kate, he loves it! He has stopped exploding into the canter, I think because it's no longer a surprise or a big deal, now that we're doing more of it. He's enjoying having a more challenging job, I can tell!


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