I’ve titled this “quick” but as I begin typing I fear I won’t be able to keep the word count from getting out of hand again. Well, here goes…
Well… we’ve been cantering a lot since I last posted. In both directions. Sometimes on the right leg, sometimes not. But since the lesson with Lee Pearson in which it was proved to me that D can canter really fast on a small circle on the wrong leg without falling over it has really taken the worry out of the wrong leg business for me. This has been a real relief and has freed up my mind to let me get on with riding whichever canter I have at the time.
Riding instructors are supposed to make riders canter properly and in a safe and balanced manner, so they were only doing their job when they taught me not to go round corners of the school or circle on the wrong leg. But that taught me to fear the counter-canter. That fear was reinforced when, in one of my riding lessons a few months before I got Drifter, I ended up on the wrong canter-lead heading obliquely for a wall leading to a corner, trying to get back to trot but the horse was stressing out and wouldn’t listen to my aids. He tried to corner but lost his footing and went down on his knees, tipping me off. I fell quite nicely, as he tipped me in such a way that I rolled and came to my feet naturally, but it did reinforce in my head that cornering on the wrong canter-lead is a bad thing.
I didn’t realise I had that fear of the wrong canter lead until today, when it was conspicuous by its absence. Today I had the school to myself and cantered all over the place. Instead of cantering round the edge of the school or doing circles I rode shapes as if I was finding jumping lines – turning half a circle here, heading off over there, turning again, going somewhere else, and then over there. When I wanted a canter lead change I came back to trot for a few steps and asked for the lead I wanted, but didn’t expend any energy even trying to think about whether he was wrong or right – just rode the canter I had in the shape I’d chosen. Neither of us had time to think about anything and I think that stopped either of us stressing out. For the first time I could practice cantering all sorts of shapes and proved to myself (and him) that I had all the steering and brakes I needed. Sometimes he ignored my first aids so I got firmer and then he responded. Neither of us panicked, so neither of us stopped listening to the other. I’m not sure how much confidence I had to do that before in canter. But I have it now.
This is all going to come in pretty handy 😉
I’ve been invited to join a new beginner jump group lesson which starts on Saturday. It will start out with pole work, jump position and canter work and move on to little jumps over time. When I was asked about this almost a fortnight ago I didn’t think I could do it. I thought I might try a few weeks and see it I could manage, but my canter issues seemed so insurmountable that it seemed impossible. Now I’m not worried. I’m still a little wary that the yard owner is teaching it, and I find her a bit intimidating, but I’ve been speaking to her more over the last few weeks and so am gaining some confidence there as well.
In other news the yard Christmas show is on Sunday. I will be entering the walk-trot dressage test again and also the fancy dress. When I submitted my entry form there was no way I could enter the dressage with canter, but now I sort of think I could do it. But I imagine it’s counter to the spirit of dressage to not care whether you’re on the right canter lead, so it’s probably better to leave it for now, even if they would accept the late entry. Assuming they have an Easter show this year that would be a nice time to make my walk-trot-canter dressage debut.
I had said that there was no way I was doing the fancy dress again this soon. But then I succumbed. However, this costume is more minimal in effort compared to Drifter-as-Dragon – I didn’t succumb that much. Curious? You’ll have to watch this space.