Friday, April 22, 2011

Horse Blogging #13- A video of your worst riding

Really? I suppose it would be the video I got of me and Royal cantering on the left lead. He's always had problems with it, although it's been getting better. I filmed this to send to an Instructor, and got pretty much no feedback from it, other than "how has your riding changed since watching this?". So, as usual, had to go and solve my own problems.

Why I don't like it: I have a lot of excessive movement in my upper body and my butt keeps coming out of the saddle. Royal has a tendency to canter on the forehand, which makes nice riding really hard. But, like I said, it's been getting better and yesterday was a nice breakthrough.

After lab (I! Had! Crystals! Go me!), I went out to the farm, hoping to do some riding. The arena still has a few wet spots, but nothing too serious. I put on both pairs of his splint boots, and, just for fun, the royal blue bell boots. Combine the cotton pad with royal blue trim that I use under my Theraflex, and my horse has more matching accessories than I do. He did a bit of the goose-stepping with the hind boots and didn't really know what to make of the bell boots, so my ground warm-up/pre-ride check mostly consisted of convincing him that he could still move like a sane horse with all of this stuff attached to his legs. Once he was suitably sure of this, it was time to ride. I decided to use my show bridle and just kept the noseband really loose. We looked like a Reale Englishe Horsey and Ryder, instead of the unkempt and wild pair we really are.

I tried out the Cloverleaf pattern at the trot, which he started to get pretty well. The indoor is too small for canter; that'll have to wait until I can use the front field. I also played with contact, which Royal had become a lot better at tolerating. He used to basically panic with even the slightest hint of contact; now he just kind of chews on the bit in a perplexed but pleasant matter. It's times like these I wish there were a mirror in the arena, since I can't really see what's going on. Maybe I should sent up a video camera.

The big breakthrough came at the canter. As you can see from the video, Royal tends to canter with a high head, and often goes very fast. So, I use the Game of Contact to try to help him lower his and canter more on his hind end. I wasn't trying to get him to stretch all the way, just stop looking like a llama. It didn't take long for him to start cantering better and give a big snort/sigh going to the right, but the left was a big more challenging. He kept breaking gait, trying to counter-canter, and got emotional. I just hung in there until I felt him start to relax and start to lift his back. Good boy!

Of course, my little cotton pad was absolutely filthy after the ride, even I got Royal as clean as I possibly could. And he had some dry spots, so it's time for more shim experimentation. But he was still a fabulous boy.


  1. Renee,
    Thank you for sharing the video... Congratulations on your breakthrough! Sounds like you and Royal are making headway when it comes to cantering. Helping him to put his weight on his hindend will promote a better canter!

    Here is my feedback to your video:
    The canter is better than you make it sound :-), on your and Royal's part!
    You are doing a great job following the rail...
    I don't necessarily see Royal's head position as the problem. He is pulling himself forward with his front end, doesn't have his weight on his hindend... and he could do that even with his head in a lower position. I see you pushing with your butt, which in turn makes your upper body appear to move a lot and doesn't put your weight on his hindend...

    Here are a couple things to try: Put your thumb (use the hand that is not the "lead hand") under your bottom and keep this contact. Stop pushing with your butt, "canter" in your body with your correct "lead arm" (for right lead canter with your right arm). Don't worry about where Royal is going, look at it as a passenger lesson for you to improve your position and help Royal find more balance, a bigger arena might help him as long as you feel comfortable riding in it.... This way you isolate the problem and it will be easier for him and you.
    Here is a link for the Savvy Club to view a video where Linda is teaching her sister Vonni just that...
    If you are not a member, you can sign up for free for 30 days on Your log in to Parelli Connect will also work on
    Have fun and let me know how it goes!

    Petra Christensen
    Parelli 2Star Junior Instructor
    Parelli Central

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Petra. I have kind of stayed away from passenger lessons at the canter, since Royal used to be unable to distinguish "canter" from "gallop". I'll definitely try to give your suggestions a shot. :)

    I've been a SC member since 2004, so I've seen that video before. But it'll be good to watch it again.

  3. Great... if Royal has trouble to distinguish canter from gallop during the passenger lesson, does he ever walk or trot faster than you would like him, too, as well? If so, consider that you are on a "runaway horse" even if he does it at the walk.... Partial disengagement will help you help him if that's the case.
    If it is because he is unbalanced (aka on his forehand) and therefore runs faster trying to rebalance himself, every time he goes just a tad faster, stop him (think about doing a "duck landing with your butt, lifting your rein and moving all the way to a one rein stop if you have to) Do all this in slooooow motion so that he can think thru it. Back him up with a 9 stop back up and then ask again. This will help him put his weight on his hindend. It might take lots of transitions (aka pattern "one million transitions) to do so...
    Let me know how it goes! I will be out of the office for the summer, teaching out in the field and assisting at the campus. You can always reach me at, or look me up at Parelli Connect!
    Have a great summer...

    Petra Christensen
    Parelli 2Star Junior Instructor
    Parelli Central