Practice Differently

We all have that one element of our riding that we just can’t seem to crack. For me it’s Canter transitions, they are like a mental block and if I don’t get my Canter on the first ask I fall to pieces and start to flap away like a lunatic-achieving nothing!


Now I’ve spent a fair bit of time lately working on these Canter transitions as the horse I was riding was not making them easy for me-Jamie just wants me to learn I’m sure he’s doing it for my benefit…..


The thing is, I’ve been riding for many years so I’ve done thousands of Canter transitions so you’d think I’d know how to do one, which I kind of do. But if you break it down do I REALLY know how to do one? If I did why would I not get into Canter on the first ask? Or why if I didn’t get it the first time because the horse was being lazy could I not just ask again a bit firmer? You see I went round and round trying again and again but they weren’t getting any better, sure I got into Canter but it was messy and certainly not effortless.


So what did I do? Well I got help via a couple of different mediums.


Firstly I am fortunate that often I have a friend with me when I ride so she was able to watch EXACTLY what I did I.e not what I THOUGHT I did and we could then discuss which bits of this did and didn’t add up to a Canter transition. Apparently what in my head was sitting up tall, giving with the reins, leg just behind the girth was in fact tip forward, chuck the reins at him and swing your leg at his hip bone… not exactly a Canter aid after all!


I also had lessons on a different horse -who was a little more amenable so that I could practice the aids knowing I was going to get the Canter.


I also had lessons on Jamie to deal with the steps leading up to the transition to give us the best chance of a successful Canter.


I also went away and did some research-I’m a huge fan of Dressage Training TV with Mary Wanless and Peter Dove and I found a great session on Canter aids by Peter that really helped.


So with all of these new tools under my belt, I practiced and practiced and well they have definitely got better. The reason not being because I have practiced but because I have practiced differently than before. I have broken down what was going wrong, found new ways of learning it and then begun to practice with these new tools under my belt.


It would have been easy to blame Jamie for not responding to my aids but in reality it’s me that needs to learn to communicate with him not the other way around. If he doesn’t respond to what I’m asking I need to change how I ask the question.


Ok so what the point of my little confession on the crapness of my Canter aids, well hopefully you will feel a little better that other people struggle too, but also my point is that if you are struggling with something in particular instead of just bashing away with the same skill set, go away and develop a new skill set on it.


You could try doing some reading on the exact aids, some schooling exercises around the aids and then really analyse whether you are using those aids. Again someone on the ground or if I don’t have that I set up my phone camera in a corner of the school and video it so I can watch back. Having lessons on another horse or with a different instructor can help too. Our brains all learn differently so what explanation may work for one person may not work for another.


I challenge you now to decide what you’re going to tackle and spend this weekend looking for a different way to practice it! Let me know how you get on!


If you would like to improve your riding performance off horse I have space for 121 clients at my private studio located WN8 9QP so hit reply if you’d like a consultation.



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