Canter Month is going really well – I think we’re even ahead of schedule!
In preparation for Jump a Course Month coming up in April I am doing as much canter work over poles as possible so it was great to have the entire stadium ring to ourselves today - one of the benefits of riding in the rain on a Monday morning!
There was a steady drizzle as I lowered a handful of jumps to my favorite “baby cross rail” height, slipped into my rain boots and retrieved Cotton from the pasture. By the time we were all dressed and ready to go it had stopped raining. After our warm up in the field we turned our attention to those “jumps” in the stadium ring.
Last week I had discovered the benefits of cantering to a little fence in a light 3-point position rather than getting up into 2-point. It was amazing how Cotton stayed balanced right between my seat and hand as he rolled toward the rails in a light and airy canter. It felt effortless! I was in complete control. I didn’t pull. He wasn’t in a hurry. He had impulsion. He was balanced. We were riding forward. He stopped easily afterwards. Am I on the same horse?! So today, I was elated that we were able to get the same bouncy, balanced canter right away and approach the poles as smoothly as last time. It really is all starting to come together!
Even so, we met the first few jumps with a mixed bag of take off spots - some were right on but most were long and strung out. The last thing Cotton needed was to practice launching over jumps and rushing off afterwards!
Oh Lord, what am I doing wrong? We took a short walk break to ponder the situation.
I realized that I needed to focus more on his canter rather than the obstacles. I needed to ride his haunches to the base and use half-halts to prevent him from getting strung out even though he wasn’t speeding up. We cantered to at least a dozen combinations of various rails. We did turns, bending lines, a one stride combination – all at the canter! Our take off spots became more and more consistent – it was getting easier!
Jumping is becoming natural for me again – yay!!