During each of Sarah’s trips this winter we’ve tried valiantly for me to take one of her lessons on Derby, but have been thwarted by things like abscesses, car trouble, polar vortexes…but this time it finally worked out! We had a very nice lesson (as always) and came away with some new tools in our toolkit. Poor Derby gets teased about being the Laziest Thoroughbred Ever…I think he secretly likes being made to work because he’s generally pretty agreeable once you get him going, but you have to be 1000% committed to forward or else his engine just up and peters out. Neither I nor S have done a whole lot with his canter over the winter because work has been so sporadic, but it’s time to dust off that third gear. He does historically have more trouble with his right lead than his left, generally manifesting in not-so-pretty transitions and/or missed leads and the distinct feeling of riding a washing machine on a Tilt-a-whirl. So in our “what do you want to work on this lesson” chat, Christy and I agreed that we’d first see how the trot went and then mayyyyybe do some canter if it feels like we’ve got ourselves together enough.
So, we do our usual trotwork, adjustability, try and move his body parts around individually,
all those things that I really ought to be able to do without my hand held etc etc. Going to the right, get to the part where let’s-see-how-big-we-can-trot and then oh hey did he just offer up right lead canter?! Roll with it! And it honestly was probably the nicest canter I’ve had on him. Tried it the other way and it worked again…just pushing his trot to the point where he decides on his own that OK humans if you want that much speed why don’t I just canter.
Reason #882873kajillion why Christy is a boss. I’m no stranger to canter transitions being an issue, but more from the OMG WE’RE CANTERING I’MA ROCKETSHIP end of the spectrum, in which the “trick them into the canter” method of choice tends to be “stop asking for slow.” Like with Pearl, once she realizes we’re at the Cantering Part it’s all she can think about, so I’d have to ask for harder exercises at the trot to keep her focused on me rather than hey mom can we canter how ’bout now no please really can we. Or with little baby Tom- “omg all I’ve had to do for the last 3 years is jog around in a circle once a week why are you asking me to work harder wait did you just say I could canter because this is fun wheeeeeeee” -my, I had to think of “allowing” rather than “asking for” the canter unless I wanted a little hippity-hop
god i will never stop missing that sassy little shit.
But it never would have occurred to me to transfer that in the opposite direction. And once C helped unlock that little secret, we were even able to do what was quite possibly the most hilariously disorganized Training level test ever but shut up, I’d never done one before. And then Christy was able to pass that knowledge along to Sarah in her lessons the following week and hey whaddaya know it worked for her too. Good Derbs, good trainer, good riders.