From Endurance to Dressage
We've been doing a lot of practice with the counter canter lately, especially the counter canter into a volte - I LOVE that exercise.
On the left lead, Speedy is getting more and more balanced in the counter canter and when we make the turn into the volte, he really drops his haunches and sits for the volte (relatively speaking). The right lead is a whole different thing.
I suspect that I am working on movements that come in Second and Third level, but I am too lazy to really go and look it up. I am know I am not pushing him too hard as we do what he can do, and then I move on to something else.
The trouble we're having is making a 20-meter half circle in the counter canter on the right lead. Speedy just can't quite hold it, so he has started to do an absolutely lovely flying change. It's beautifully done, but we need to be able to hold the counter canter.
What I've started to do is go back a few steps to show him that I actually want him to hold the right lead canter. Instead of half circles, I am doing the shallow loop that comes at the end of First Level Test 3. I am also doing quarter circles up and down the one long half so that he gets a break and a quick release by going back to the right. My court is only about 45 meters so I can only get a few quarter circles, but then I simply repeat the turns down the other long half.
I am using the counter canter to improve his canter work, which is actually working. I just need to make sure I don't inadvertently teach him to make automatic changes on the right lead since he needs to be able to hold the counter canter in the serpentine. I am very conscious of keeping my right hip forward, maintaining a little right bend, and riding him right leg to left rein.
Any advice out there?
Wow! I might be wrong, but I think the counter canter to volte is actually more 4th level than 3rd! Really cool that you're able to get him sitting so much for it!
1/8/2015 05:32:48 am
Seconded on the weight of your seat and hips. I was inadvertently asking for Murray to change when trying to do right counter-canter by trying to "pull" him over to the left. Instead, if I sit and think of sweeping my hips from right to left as I do the shallow loop (that's all we're up to right now) then I have much more success.
1/8/2015 10:09:55 am
Thanks, ladies. :0)
I think you might be on to your problem there! The counter canter will really accentuate any issues you might be having at the canter. If he's too on the forehand, he won't be able to lift his shoulders out of the way and might change in order to feel more in balance.
I agree that it's likely a strength issue. Irish had the same going to the right.
1/10/2015 12:46:15 am
Pretty cool that Speedy is offering a flying change! That is also Harley's favorite direction to change from, however, that is very clearly his more balanced and stronger lead (the right).
I am a big fan of the teardrop exercise as a way to diagnose problems. So instead of a true volte, you're only doing half of it, then returning to the rail in an angle. That would give you the easier counter canter on the straight line, introduce it on the smaller circle, and then put you back on the correct lead when you're back on the rail. You can also string several of them together to go left-right-left-right and so on.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
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