Learning to lift
This week in dressage land almost all my horses worked on ways to better articulate, engage, and lift their hind end. On my young four year old horse (pictured above) her legs move like a tarantula when she tries to canter, meaning they are not coordinated and fling all over the place. She is still struggling with where to place her legs and find her balance in the canter, so I cantered her over some wee bitty cavaletti to help her lift her hind legs in the canter a bit more – and it worked! I could feel her lift her back in ways that I have not felt before.
The canter pole idea actually started last weekend when a buyer from West Palm suggested one of my sale horses would benefit from it. She is a super amateur friendly “safe/old lady” dressage horse but her canter can get a little lateral sometimes. The idea was to canter her over the poles to help her separate the hindlegs a bit more and help speed up the timing of the slow one. On Monday I lunged her over just one single canter cavaletti and it helped tremendously. She was able to separate her hind legs and bend her hocks more. Her canter felt so smooth after that!
I also needed the canter poles to help Nina with her flying changes. Occaisionally she can get a little late behind and is just too slow with her right hind leg. However, when I make cantering over small cavaletti part of her program her changes are clean and crisp. It really helps her lift that hind leg higher, which is where it needs to be.
I think it’s important to note that in order to work on this hind end work, first I had to get their shoulder’s to lift and work. I have some new training horses that would NOT be ready for this type of canter pole work. It wouldn’t work if their shoulders were stuck and down, so I can’t emphasize enough that getting your horse to lift their shoulders comes BEFORE asking them to lift more behind.
I hope that helps you figure out how to fix your late flying changes and disorganized canters at home!