In my lesson Saturday, we also worked on some counter canter. The main thing I took away is to stop trying to over bend Ava to the inside lead. I was actually making it harder for her, poor horse.
What I was doing was basically death gripping her face to the inside and then wondering why she wouldn’t turn the opposite direction.
Instead, Roz had me give with the inside rein, but sponge it to keep the poll flexed to the inside lead. I then subtly used my outside rein to lead the horse in the direction I wanted her to go in, while asking the haunches to move away from the direction I wanted her to go.
Here’s where I had problems though. No matter how hard I tried to get the haunches around, they just weren’t moving. So we worked on haunches in on the long side and then counter canter. Roz also had me transition to walk, move the haunches over, then pick up the canter again. All of these steps helped Ava figure out what I was asking for while keeping things drama free.
It took us several tries each direction before Ava and I really got it, but the last one each side was really easy to ride, balanced, and smooth.
The last major point I took away from the lesson is the idea of capturing the energy created. This concept has so many levels to it, and I have a zillion neat ways to really screw it up quickly. 🙂 In the clinic with Pam back in June, she had me focus on really getting the horse powerfully forward with big energy. When she asked me to capture that energy for collection I had no idea how to do that. In the lesson with Roz I had Ava moving forward with good energy, but couldn’t package her up. Roz pointed out that all the energy I had created was spilling out the front because my reins were too long. I shorted my reins a couple of inches while focusing on keeping the energy, I included a few half-halts to ask Ava to slow the front end slightly, and suddenly I had a big, bounding trot under me. Now, I lost it almost immediately, but after that I was able to get it back fairly quickly and for longer periods of time. When I tried working on this at home this week, I couldn’t reproduce it. I believe it’s because I didn’t have Ava adequately forward in balance (I think she was too on the forehand). I’m going to try smaller circles with better forward energy next time and see if that fixes it. I’ll keep you updated.
Til then, have fun riding!!