Figure eight for simple change of lead II
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Monday, July 14, 2008 09:42 AM
Now it is time to do the figure eight in canter. Warm up your horse as usual incorporating figure eight exercises in walk and trot from the previous blog. When you are ready for canter work start on 20 m circle that goes through the "gate" (see the previous blog). Work on trot-canter-trot transitions. Keep your trot forward but steady. At the beginning canter at least the whole 20 m circle before bringing your horse back to trot, establish steady balanced trot before asking for a canter depart. If your horse brakes into trot do not ask for canter immediately, and especially with "angry leg". Reestablish his balance in trot and ask for canter again. Work on transitions until your horse settles down into exercise and starts to anticipate them. Change direction in trot through figure eight. But make sure you have good balanced trot before changing direction.
As you can see in some way we already started working on a figure eight in canter. We just put lots of circles in between and long stretches of trot work. The development of exercise is to start diminishing number of circles between changes of direction through figure eight and number of trot steps until it becomes true figure eight. Now ride only one transition to canter on a new lead, canter 1 or 2 circles and ask for trot again. As soon as trot is balanced change direction through the figure eight. Same thing on another rein. If your horse feels prompt, steady and balanced make only one circle in canter. Make your transition to trot at least half-circle before the"gate". Establish good trot and change direction. Pick up a new lead as soon as you establish a new bend. Again just one circle in canter and transition to trot half-circle before the "gate". Gradually bring your transition to trot closer to the gate and pick up a new lead as soon as you change your bend. Your horse will tell you how quickly you should approach true figure eight. Do not be tempted to ride it when your horse is loosing his balance, rushing, on the forehand, hard to turn, behind your legs. Wait until it feels almost easy to execute. You will be rewarded with nice and balanced figure eight that looks effortless.
Always remember, if things are not working out today you can try again tomorrow. There is a reason it is not working. Something is not right, either you or your horse is not ready. Always listen to your horse, he will tell you where to go next.
Happy riding...
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