Canter Pants and Invisible Bowtie

These are 2 of the clothing items that Bentley has been wearing these days.

You have probably heard me speak of these canter pants before, so lets talk about that!  We are working on it.  In our lesson, Margie adjusted the “reward” I am to give him for cantering nicely.  Its now a happy medium between her method and my method.  What we are doing now is starting the canter on a circle and continuing the circle until the canter is nice, and reward him by allowing him to canter down the long side and continue cantering.  Not too long though!  Just long enough to enjoy it!  This has fixed our problem of getting wacky in the corners and immediately jumping into the gallop when asked to canter.  I rarely need to circle more than once.  In fact, his canter is almost always wonderful from the start, but to reward down the long side (or avoid traffic), we need to complete the circle once or twice anyway!

The downside to this however is our circles are affected.  How so?  Well now he thinks every time we trot a circle, we are going to canter!  Last night (a non lesson night) he was getting particularly funky when we trotted circles, so we started figure 8ing which helped slow him down.  Will also have to start circling away from the ends of the ring to keep him surprised.  However, I am not sure when we can get to that stage as there are always lots of jumps set up.

The other issue is in my head.  I keep thinking about how I am going to canter “Ok canter when we get here” or “canter when he settles down” or “get him bent so we can get our correct lead.”  A lot of the nonsense comes from his ability to read my mind, and his enthusiasm over the gait.  I must be telling him things I am not even aware of!

Barb rode with us last night and showed me how to raise my rein when he gets unbalanced on the circle while cantering, to provide a barrier so he cannot lean in and get off balance or fast.  It felt very weird at first: straight out front almost to his ears, but keep the rein tight.  It did work though!  No motorcycling to the inside.  I cant wait to whip that one out in my lesson Friday!

The canter itself is also much improved.  Since I have been putting a lot of focus on it recently, he gets a lot of time to enjoy cantering and its starting to be less about going fast, and more about going well.  On Tuesday when I rode, we had 4-5 strides of what felt like the most perfect canter ever.  He was lofty and consistent.  I could sit easily to it, but had lots of height and spring to his step while keeping contact.  It was a few magical moments there that gave me the taste of what CAN be.  I felt like we were both perfect! Perhaps that’s what has me so enthusiastic about working on a gait that did scare me a tiny bit several weeks ago.  I wish we had captured that on video, or at least had a witness.  Lee was there but said he couldn’t see it as we were going away from him (I know that he was playing on his phone though!)

The invisible bowtie is something SUPER cute.  From the moment I got on last night, he was walking around like he was wearing one.  Rounding his neck, puffing out his chest, and just showing off immensely.  I am so happy that he feels so wonderful!  Nothing wrong with a horse who takes pride in himself!  He got lots of compliments from the other riders in the arena and I think it just inflated the bowtie.  Not sure exactly what it was that gave him this, but I will keep searching for his “X Factor” to bring his bowtie out for every ride!


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