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[RC] Canter departs from the halt - k s swigart

Nina Vasiliev said:

We worked from corner to corner. I stood him in a corner,
facing the next corner. I asked for the depart from the halt
and at first he trotted a few steps and then cantered. As we
got to the next corner, I asked for a halt. Once stopped, his
reward was resting and being stroked. Then we did a quarter
turn, stopped, and I asked for the depart, stopping at the
next corner.

Another entertaining (and useful) way to develop the canter depart from
the halt is to use figure eights for the exercise instead of using the
rail.  You can start out by asking for the canter just before you get to
the corner (perfectly okay to trot the transition if that is all your
horse understands), make a circle, and when you get to the center of
your work area ask for the halt (perfectly okay to trot into it if that
is all your horse understands/has the balance for), back up a step or
two to get the horse's weight backwards and onto the correct hind leg
(what will be the inside hind), and ask for the canter depart in the
opposite direction.  Make the canter circle back to the same spot in the
center, halt, back up a step or two to if necessary to engage the HQ,
and repeat again asking for the opposite lead.

As the horse begins to get this exercise (although you don't want to do
it so much that the horse starts anticipating in and does it before you
ask for it), he will start to figure out that he should halt with his HQ
underneath him (i.e. stop from the back instead of the front) in which
case you can remove the back up a step or two from the exercise and do
canter right lead, halt, canter left lead.

Then you can shorten the halt time enough to the point where there is no
halt and the horse goes straight from canter right lead to canter left
lead (and you now have the flying lead change :)).

What this exercise also does is to teach the RIDER which aids work to a)
pick up a particular lead, b) to prepare a horse for the halt (and
therefore all other transistions) before actually asking for them, c) to
get a feel for which hind leg is on the ground when, and d) how to use
and time the aids for the flying change.

And all through a progressive, working up to it slowly, with plenty of
time for both horse and rider to figure out what works and what doesn't.

This exercise, rather than the corner to corner one, has the advantage
of not allowing either horse or rider to use the rail/corner as a
crutch.  However, it also has the disadvantage of not allowing either
horse or rider to use the rail/corner as a crutch.

So I use both exercises (at least I do when I have a work area with a
rail and/or corner.  You can also do both of them out in an open field,
or if the arena with a rail is big enough, you can pretend as if you are
out in an open field.

If people are interested, I can also give details about how you can
achieve much the same thing on an appropriately chosen trail.

Orange County, Calif.


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