Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dawn Canters

Dawn and I changed things up today and worked in the afternoon - it wasn't too hot and I was busy in the morning as my younger daughter was leaving to go back to college. We worked on her softness at the trot, and also at relaxation and stretching down. That went well.

Then we did some canter work. We haven't done much work at the canter, just a few trot/canter transitions. So this was really an evaluation session. Dawn's tendency at the canter is to get rushy and bracey and lean on my hands, using them as a fifth leg. The result of this is that she tends to get on the forehand and have some trouble sustaining the canter. So we did a minimal amount of work in both directions, and did manage to get 3 somewhat softer steps in one direction. She also tends to get pretty excited after cantering, wanted to rush at the trot and also to go back up to canter, so we worked on our relaxation at the trot between canter sets. I was very pleased that, after a moment to refocus, she was able to relax at the trot, soften well and do some nice stretch-down work.

I think that the canter may require working on her relaxation and self-balancing. I'm thinking some cantering where she has to carry herself with minimal rein contact, at a relaxed pace, might help. We can do smaller circles if need be to allow her to rebalance. Then we can go back to our softening work. I'll have to try out that program tomorrow and see how it goes - if it works we'll keep going down that track, and if not, then we'll try something else.

She also wanted to balk when I pointed her down the trail during our cool-down, so I jumped off and led her. She thought she was done, and it may be that she's preferring the arena work. We'll keep working on that as well. I want Dawn to willingly go wherever I point her, but getting in a fight with her isn't a very good idea - it needs to be her idea. We may use some backing and lateral work as a way to get her past her objections by giving her a job to concentrate on.

Now I need to get back to work on post number 3 in the series!


  1. Some Thoroughbreds actually warm up best at the canter as it's the gait they were bred for--gallop, actually.

    Dawn is certainly an interesting project. I like your approach to the challenge of the trail ride afterwards. There really is no point in battling her and undoing all the soft work you are creating.

    Well thought out.

  2. Kate, It sounds like you had a very good session with Dawn. Very interesting to hear your thoughts on rein contact at the canter; I too am working on that and it is challenging. I look forward to hearing more from your future rides.

  3. Is that Dawn in the new banner pic?! Wow..what a beautiful strong neck!

  4. Sounds like she's coming along very well. Love the pic of her in the banner, she looks lovely!

  5. Sounds like a good afternoon session. I like your idea that it has to be Dawn's idea for success. I find the very same thing with my two. Dancing in such a way to make the horse either: a. like my idea or b. think it is their own - that is what I do most days.

  6. Sounds like a fun ride! I love using short trail rides or even just a walk around outside the ring as a cool down reward.

  7. Great that you are working on some canter now too... I find it so interesting that each gait needs specific work and conditioning... I mean, I know that each gait needs specific work, but it is just so fun/interesting to work on each one and build up to more and more correct work. (does that make any sense???)


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