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30/ FEBRUARY 2020 THE RIDER


Skip Into A Straight Canter Transition (Exercise)


trot, but we use the trot to help you set up your horse’s bal- ance and straightness so that you can easily “skip” into the canter. The longer canter stretch will allow you to develop your horse’s canter before having to transition back to the trot.


straightness of your trot-canter transition. You will actually spend more time in canter than in


Here’s The Pattern 1. Start at F, on the left rein, already in trot. Head across on the diagonal. Canter in right lead as you pass over X. 2. Now, continue the rest of Step 1 in canter. Contrary to most patterns, we won’t do a corner. Instead, start a half 20-m circle before you reach the corner, and continue in the half-circle in canter. Develop a slight bend through the half-circle. 3. Trot before you get to M and change across the diagonal again in trot.


By Kathy Farrokhzad. This exercise is for you, if you want to improve the


in the left lead. Do the half-circle in canter and transition back to trot before F.


need to practice in order to see benefits. So as you ride through the pattern, you might find that you need several repetitions just to get each component. THEN, once you and your horse know where you’re going and what you’re doing, you will be able to work on the nuances that are at the heart of this exercise.


Repeat several times. The theory behind “Practice Sessions” is that you


you head into the corner, a half-halt might help your horse maintain his balance as he navigates the tight turn. You might need additional “go” (two legs on) going through


The Details The Corner Use the corner to help set up for the diagonal line. As


Now, do everything in the opposite direction! So transition to canter as you pass over X, this time


the corner, which will allow the horse to en- gage the hind legs enough to head into the diagonal with enough strength. Treat the corner as a tight bend and turn your own body into the bend the same way you ex- pect from your horse.


give you a moment to focus on tempo and balance before the upcoming canter transi- tion. Look for a 1-2-1-2 consistent tempo. Work on travelling in a straight line (no noodling!) and send energy again from the hind end to the front end. You might want to strengthen the trot if it feels under power. Or you might want to half-halt to contain too much energy.


than a change of leg, in the correct lead. There should be no rushing, scrambling, head tossing, stopping, or deeking to the left or right. You know you (finally!) have a skip when nothing changes other than the gait. The line stays straight, the horse’s out- line stays the same, the energy just contin-


horse’s right rib cage and shoulder (and pre- vent it from falling in). Sit balanced on your new inside seat bone (the right) and then... a little “windshield wiper” swish of your outside leg to ask for the canter depart. The transition should be nothing more


right eye (flexion). Many horses will be still looking left at this moment. Having correct flexion will help your horse with everything from knowing where he’s going next, to not wavering off the diagonal line, and finally, to knowing which lead to take. Use a little right leg to balance the


might need to set up a little for the right lead, because you just came off a left turn! Look for the corner of your horse’s


The “Skip” (Transition Over X) Prepare for the canter before X. You


The Diagonal Line Now, the beginning of this line will


ues to flow as it was in trot. You can keep your balance because your horse was al- ready in balance. And the horse is light on his feet!


to enjoy the canter for a moment. See if you can develop the stride length (without speeding up), create a mild 20-m bend in canter, and still maintain a consistent tempo. Prepare for the down transition and trot before the next turn, so that you can trot again into the straight line.


The Half-Circle The half-circle gives your horse time


with diagonal lines, and cantering from X to the end of the half-circle. :-) At least, the idea is to make it look easy after you’ve got a good handle on all the parts.


transitions, both up and down. Figure out where you need to do the half-halts to con- tain energy, and where you need additional leg to maintain energy. Where does your horse have a tendency to lean in? Which lead departure is the more difficult one? Through repetition, you can improve the weakest parts, then the next weakest, and so on.


Work on developing ever smoother


creates quite a workout for you and your horse, teaches straight lines as well as bends, and gives you opportunity to de- velop the timing of your own aids as you fine tune the details.


Changing sides and gaits in this way Have fun!


(Joke!) All you are doing is a trot figure eight


The Final Picture I mean, this is an easy pattern, no?


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