Abbey often surprises me with the speed at which she learns.  Both my instructor and I were prepared for Abbey to get cross and a little hot headed as we introduced walk to canter for the first time but she proved us both wrong as she listened attentively and responded quickly to my aids.

It just shows how important it is to break new movements down into their constituent elements!

After warming up we practiced our trot to halt transitions, removing more and more steps of the walk.  Then we moved onto the walk to canter.

My instructor broke it down into very simple steps:

  • from a small 10m circle in walk
  • prepare the aids (outside leg back, weight onto the inside)
  • niggle with the inside leg to create a little impulsion while holding the outside rein and asking her to contain the energy
  • then ask or canter

We also worked on asking Abbey to ‘come up’ in the canter and to sit on her hind quarters more.  To do this I was half halting while my inside leg remained ‘on’.  We had some very pleasing, very light moments which I will be aiming to get more off in the coming weeks and months.

Abbey got the hang of it very quickly and after 20 minutes we felt she’d done really well, was starting to get a little tired and quit while we were ahead.

There are a few things that I need to work on.  My legs go forward from the knee as I go into halt, I need to keep them back to where I would normally ask for the walk/trot. There’s only an inch or two in it, but by keeping my legs back, my knees and thighs relaxed, the transitions are much better.

With the walk to canter transitions less is most definitely more. It only took the lightest of leg aids to ask Abbey to go into canter and it all falls apart if I ‘get after’ her!

This was a really good, enjoyable start and I am looking forward to practicing this exercises in our schooling sessions next week.