Rusty Stirrup

Marching Onward

So anyone who’s read any of my previous blogs knows how pokey L

By: Rusty Stirrup |

Luc and I work on going forward.

Luc and I work on going forward.

So anyone who’s read any of my previous blogs knows how pokey Luc can be at times. It’s something his owner Jen, who also happens to be my sister, has been continuously working on. In the past few weeks, she’s really upped her game when it comes to keeping him going without using enough leg to get an elephant to move forward. And it’s working!

Not wanting to derail the progress she’s made, my ride this week was all about keeping Luc marching forward. I set the expectations straight out of the gate. Instead of our usual snail’s pace during our warmup, I urged Luc into an active walk. Colour me surprised when it only took a minimal amount of leg—and he even kept it going without me squeezing harder every three steps.

After we were both warmed up and limber (or as limber as Luc gets) at the walk, I picked up a trot. With only a small amount of encouragement, Luc lengthened his stride. The next thing I knew it was as if I really was riding a 16.2H horse instead of the 13H pony his stride often makes you believe he is. We maintained that impulsion more easily than I thought. A few reminder taps with the crop, and we were off to the races.

Since Luc and I are both still feeling the monotony of riding around the arena, I decided I needed to do more than just work on forward. So I opted to try a little leg yielding. Sitting trot was not my friend today. Every time I’d try it, Luc would lose all impulsion, making our leg yields less than stellar. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I came down the quarter line and this time tried the leg yield while still in my rising trot.

It felt alien, but it worked! Luc continued moving forward and crossing over at the same time. Success! I don’t think we would have won any dressage competitions with it, but hey, Luc prefers being a jumper anyways.

After the success we had going forward at the walk and trot, I was cautiously optimistic about the canter. It has traditionally been his most difficult gait. I asked, and he picked it up right away, which was a good sign. But instead of leaving things to Luc, I immediately urged him into a bigger canter, then a bigger one, and within a few stride we had an amazingly forward canter. It was probably one of the nicest canters I have had on Luc. Too bad the downward transition was one of the worst! Clearly there are still a few areas that Luc needs work on.

While I appreciate that he has good breaks, there’s coming back easily, and then there’s falling into the walk all heavy and on the forehand. Changing directions, I asked for the canter and experienced a bit of a delayed reaction. It took Luc a few strides to respond to my request. But once he did, I was able to get that amazing canter in this direction as well.

The downward transition this way was a bit better, as I used a whole lot of leg. It seems counter-intuitive to me to have to use so much leg to stop, but that’s how it works. Not happy with the lack of immediate response when I asked for the canter the first time going this direction, I opted to ask him again. This time the response was immediate.

After cantering another lap around the arena, we got another good downward transition and I called it a day. Another successful ride in the books. I can’t wait to do it all over again next weekend!