Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Landing on the correct canter lead

Thor on our dressage lesson with Mia Kainulainen a few weeks back
For the past few weeks we have been focusing on landing on the correct canter lead while jumping. We have been looking for a good rhythm and riding proper ways. With Antti we had the most amazing lesson a few weeks back and for the first time in years we jumped so much and so many rounds that I was completely exhausted. The jumps were quite high and I noticed that it required a bit more from me physically than what lower jumps would do. It was however amazing to jump a proper course and I really felt alive after the lesson. Not much that beats the adrenaline rush of a proper jumping lesson.

When jumping it is important to get the correct canter lead after the jump. Even if you can continue in counter-canter or change the canter via trot these changes always affects the rhythm of the canter.

With Masi it was almost impossible to get a correct canter lead after the jump because he had physiological limitations to his canter. It was always a bit of a challenge while jumping because even if everything went very well otherwise it did affect the feeling when heading toward a jump.

With Thor again it is clearly easy for him to come down in the correct canter lead but because Thor is very sensitive he reacts to all my aids very well and tends to get a bit confused sometimes.

Yesterday our instructor put up a lot of poles and smaller fences and we had to stay focused and concentrate on the following jump already on the previous one. Thor was very good and focused and jumped beautifully. Thor has such a good balance and rhythm that it is just pure enjoyment to jump with him. On the jumps I just turned my gaze and my upper body a little bit in the direction of travel and we came down in the correct canter lead most of the time. When I however turn e.g my upper body too much to the right I turn my hips out to the left and my weight goes to the left side. Since the horse always follows the weight of the rider Thor thinks that I want him to come down in the left canter rather than the right.

It is easy to try this by standing on the floor and turning the upper body to the left and right and also play with the gaze. You can really feel how easily the rest of the body starts to move and to what direction it starts heading. It is the same feeling for the horse when you are riding so it is important to practice this and become more and more aware of ones body and proprioception of it (warmly recommend yoga for this). 

A lot of the time when we encounter problems while riding we are asked to give bigger aids or turn the horse even more with the hands or legs For riding however less is definitely more. I have found that the more relaxed I am and the more focused and straight my gaze and my seat is, the less I have to do. If I try to push or pull I only get the wrong canter lead and I am just confusing my horse even more. When we get into the flow and I get my own body to stay in the right place and just lead the horse to the next fence with my gaze, it becomes a lovely co-operation where we head to the next fence together as whole rather than two separate units.

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