I've been dying to try an exercise I saw on Jane Savoie's Dressage Mentor. To teach the horse to bend its hind legs more in canter she has the rider going from a walk pirouette straight into canter, and then ride straight out of the pirouette to begin with as, obviously, it would be unfair to expect a canter pirouette from a horse who is still learning how to bend its hind legs in canter.
I really wanted to try this with Bella, to help improve her canter, so today after warming up we gave it a go.
All I can say is, OH WOW, Bella is AMAZING!!! Although her walk to canter transitions are solid and her walk pirouettes are fairly well established I was not at all sure she would be able to get into canter from the pirouette. I use a very discreet 'cuh' sound, along with the normal rider leg position, to cue canter and she sat straight into an instant and lovely transition. I clicked the transition and treated and made a huge fuss of her to show her how impressed I was, then tried again.
I intended to carry on in canter out of the pirouette after the transition before I clicked this time and she took me totally by surprise when she just repeated the canter bounce on the spot for several strides. I had to make one of those instant, gut reaction decisions whether to click or not and decided against as it wasn't what I had in mind or was really asking for. It did occur to me immediately after my decision that I might have made the wrong one and maybe Bella was trying to continue in the pirouette and I should have reinforced her enthusiasm for such a difficult feat!!!
Anyway, it was too late by then so I went back to plan A, did a little bit of ordinary canter to show her that I wanted her to go forward after the transition, then tried the exercise again a couple of times on each rein with great success, and we ended the session delighted with each other!!!
I love Jane Savoie and learn so much from Dressage Mentor. I love the way she splits everything down into the basics and simplifies everything, and her enormous excitement and enthusiasm when her students get something right, even the tiniest improvement. I do avoid any of the videos relating to getting the horse forward off the leg, as I know it won't be the way I want to do things, but I love the others and Jane's personality.
I watched a video yesterday where she was working on improving a horse's canter. She shouted "YES, that's BEAUTIFUL, pet him, pet him!!!" when the horse sat into the transition. Doubt was written all over the rider as the horse had gone slightly above the bit in the transition and Jane picked up on that without a word being said and told the rider "Did you feel how uphill he was? Didn't that feel amazing? I don't care where his head and neck are at the moment, we can easily round that off later - he's SITTING into the canter, that's all that matters for now!"
Another thing I loved on this video was that she said that the exercises develop collection but the rider then has to hold the horse in collection with their core - not the reins.
Bella + clicker training + Dressage Mentor = SO much FUN!!!! Xxx