Joy’s First Real Counter-Canter

Now that I can get the haunches in at the canter, i thought I’d try a real Counter-Canter with her. Last time I tried (last year), I couldn’t control the shoulders and haunches well enough to keep her on the lead.

I was only going to try doing a bendy line from B to the far corner , but she was so easy to steer from my seat that I thought I’d go for a half circle in counter-canter.

Check out how it went (you may want to mute the sound):

She got unbalanced on the last part of the half-circle, but not bad overall for a beginning.

The left lead counter-canter wasn’t going as well. A little too weak and unbalanced to hold it around a full circle, so I’ll have to work on that. However, really thrilled that I was able to pick up which ever lead I wanted regardless of which direction I was going (she picked up the left without too many issues even though we were going to the right).

I really liked her leg-yield here:

I was just really thrilled that the canter is getting more balanced! Only took me three years!! LOL!

However, I can NOT for the life of me, put this all together into a good lower-level test ride. I tried to ride a First Level Test 1 last week, and it was shit. Couldn’t get the canter at the letter, our circles were football shaped (what do you mean that’s rider error?!?!), no lengthens to speak of, I couldn’t get a stretchy trot to save my life, etc. etc. It was terrible.

I think I’ve been too lax by not riding more precisely.

To help with that, I now have… ** drum roll **



My wonderful husband made them for me.Β  They’re kind of hard to see in the pictures, but they look really nice in person.

The dressage arena is really starting to come together!! Yay!

6 thoughts on “Joy’s First Real Counter-Canter

  1. That’s brilliant progress! Test riding is hard. I’ve an instructor that is awesome to go through a test with. She goes through each movement one by one on both reins (so pony doesn’t memorize the test) and we practice until we’ve nailed it. She normal works backwards through the test e.g. we practice the last movement first. The ones that get me are turning too soon (should ask when her nose touches the letter so we turn when my body is at the letter) and aiming for the letters at the other end. For example, when going across the diagnol, aim at least 1m in front of of the letter so by the time you’re on the track you’re body is in line with the letter. For wobbly circles, ride each quarter. Sometimes if I am being particularly egg-shaped she’ll drop cones just inside of where I need to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Instructors who are knowledgeable about test riding are worth their weight in gold. That’s so great that you’ve got a good one!

      I like the idea of working the test backwards. That’s brilliant! You’d get all the benefits without the horse “knowing” the test. Love it!

      I need to do the cone thing for circles. I swear I can’t even conceptualize round anymore. lol!


  2. Your horse and your issues remind me so much of my horse and her issues. It’s taken us four years at first level before we could even begin thinking about second level. And we’re still beginning, because we know that if we can’t get her front end more “up” there’s no point in doing second level. I just work on things in pieces, and hardly ever try to do an entire test until a few weeks before show season. One thing I did learn that helped me a lot was to always be thinking ahead about setting the horse up for the next movement in the test instead of waiting until we’re only 2 strides away! At the moment I feel like we’re back at intro level in terms of balance because asking the poor horse to do any gait while “up” has her totally confused…but if it took four years for first level I guess I can spend another four at second LOL! I am so encouraged by the judge’s remarks at our last show this season that I’m going to frame them. Among other things, she said “Tactfully ridden test”, “Well-prepared”, and best of all, “Rider shows clear grasp of dressage fundamentals”! She is the first judge to ever acknowledge any of what I have to do to get any cooperation from my horse in my five years of showing. I wouldn’t be thinking of trying second level if I hadn’t received those comments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s nice to know I’m not the only one that’s been struggling. I find it ironic that we’re both talking about chestnut mares. πŸ˜‰

      Your judges comments are awesome!! It’s such a good feeling to know that they see the basics are there and the structure for moving up is in place. I love the “clear grasp of dressage fundamentals” comment. I’d be super proud of that one too if I were you!! That’s the best comment I’ve ever heard anyone get.

      Liked by 1 person

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