Q: My horse has learned to move with good balance in a relaxed manner, but as soon as I try to activate the hind end his good posture falls apart. Should I go back to just working at a slower speed?
A: One of my guidelines is: “Only focus on one detail at a time” meaning if we are working on the activation of the hind end for instance, we need to accept that in the first training phase several elements such as suppleness, balance or leading in position might initially suffer.
It is important to brave this hurdle. This is a willingness to accept a temporary setback in order to move forward. As soon as the hind end is active, we go back to improving the other elements of suppleness, balance and leading in position. But we need the activation of the hind end in order to build the exercise and complete the training phase.
The activation of the hind end is a very important building block that should be incorporated into our training early on. Otherwise, the horse will lose the joy of movement, causing him to drag his feet.
Q: Even if I want to let my horse canter, his position is bad. Should I avoid the canter at this time?
A: To activate the hind end canter-trot transitions are beneficial. That is why I incorporate canter into my program relatively early.
However: It is important to not just let the horse run if the canter is still bad. Horses that have problems in canter need to practice the transition into canter first. Encourage the horse to gently increase his energy in trot to canter. After several canter steps calmly bring the energy back down using your voice back to trot.
Very Important: NEVER try to stop the horse with the lunge line!
As soon as the horse is in trot, give him time to find his balance and use your sensitive aids to improve suppleness and posture (move in closer, calming aids, reduce the driving, carefully build in smaller circles while being mindful not to pull the horse into the circle.) Once the horse is supple and in good posture I calmy encourage him to transition into canter again.
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Concrete help and ideas for solving frequently encountered problems
Extended exercises and ideas for intermediates
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Q: How often can I practice transitioning into canter in each session?
A: As soon as the horse comfortably transitions into canter, I prolong the canter. If I notice any setbacks I revert to the transitions. As a guideline I would recommend: per session practice transitions no more than six to eight times (3-4 times on each hand). If canter is still causing the horse stress I don’t practice it in every lungeing session but rather adapt to the needs of each individual horse to every third or sixth session. And of course the most important thing: Reward your horse enthusiastically after it has put in the effort!
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