Pirouette Canter?!

After my lesson on Neuf, I put him away and it was Bali’s turn.

Training is full of progress and periods of plateaus, where you are developing strength and improving things that are the basics. As I’ve progressed with Bali, there was a plateau before 2nd level, and then it was “OMG! Cool new stuff!” for a long while…and we learned all the parts of 3rd level, and it was plateau time. I had to learn to feel the more uphill balance that the collection creates and learn to maintain it. Bali had to develop the strength to carry it. So, I’ve been riding a ton, and practicing what I’d learned, but other than half steps getting more piaffe like, there hasn’t been anything super new, improving things for sure, but not new.

For Bali’s lesson, I was ready early, so I started out walking around the ring, focusing on getting a nice connection in the walk, while listening and watching the ongoing lesson, bending and all that super stuff I did all weekend with Ashley & JJ. Inga hadn’t seen me in a month, but she felt that I had made visible improvement! OMG, I just realized, I think that I am about to reach the edge of my current plateau and start climbing up the next mountain of skills! This is exciting.

All that work on consistent contact is paying off! Bali felt good. JJ had recommended I go ahead and ride in my double bridle 3 or 4 times a week, because Bali goes well in it, and I am not relying on the curb or using it inappropriately.

Actually, Bali felt better than good, she felt amazing! She has been taking her Awesome Sauce daily it seems! She was forward!!!! And for Bali, the horse who has gotten “Needs Ambition” as a comment from a dressage judge, this was pretty cool.

We did a bit of the canter/counter canter/trot in the warm up. Same focus on bend and consistent contact.

We started in trot. Shoulder in to renvers, really getting a good bend, getting her quicker in her hind legs. She felt amazing! Then a few half passes, those were good.

Had a walk break and moved into canter work. Worked on some half pass, and once I understood the exercise, it went well. It was half pass, straighten a few steps on the diagonal, back to half pass, repeat. It took me a couple of times before I understood what Inga wanted me to do, and then it improved drastically!

That was all good, so Inga said she wanted to do some pirouette canter work. What? I’ve only played with doing them, probably badly, alone. I have done a fair amount of working pirouette, so we worked on really collecting the canter. The lesson on Chip is still paying off! That collected canter on him, keeping my outside leg back and outside aids to collect, all good.

Inga added to it. In addition to my not blocking the outside with my thigh, I need to open up my inside thigh for this level of collection. What worked was thinking of Denny’s jumping leg, upper calf on, instead of heel, but that really lightened my seat, and we would get some great steps! Going left it was really good. I would keep my outside rein, not block with the outside thigh, keep the inside thigh light, and bring my outside leg back, keeping my inside calf on, and get some really cool steps. Then I would ride out of it, keeping on the same bend, but more forward. My goal is to have my canter so collected that someone can walk next to me, while I canter. We changed direction with a flying change, but I mucked it up a bit, so we did it twice.

Going right was harder, not surprising, and when I was asking for a that pirouette canter, Bali would just walk. I laughed, and was mildly scolded. Inga said “Don’t laugh, it isn’t funny, ok…it is funny, but correct it immediately”. Noted. Laugh, but immediately correct while laughing!

Bali was just amazing yesterday. What a cool horse!


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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