I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day, CONTACT. Karen was showing off her impressive skills and her newly tried and found one-tempis. If you have followed the blog long enough, you will know that once upon a time there was doubt if she would be riding past 2nd level with her handsome boy Hampton. Clearly those doubters were on drugs because she has gone way above and beyond that with huge success.
She challenged her readers to throw caution to the wind and try something above your level. I love the idea of this challenge, especially after just seeing Charlotte Dujardin speak and encourage riders to do the same, make things messy, and have FUN! So I accepted the challenge. While counter canter may not be above my riding level, for now, it is above what Penny and I can do.
Pennys canter is slowly getting stronger, but it still not great. Basically she has an amazing canter, when she is out in the open and not being asked to sit. She has a huge stride, like 15ft average. We spent the majority of the last two years doing walk trot, poles, and about 10,000 transitions between walk, trot, and halt. Our canter work started in the late fall and now we are able to really work on it and it feels like we are getting somewhere, slowly. Back in September, I tried counter canter with Penny and failed miserably. She just broke, ran off, did a change, and I laughed and laughed at how ugly and incapable we were. We tried it a few times and determined she just wasn't ready for counter canter and to put that on the back burner.
So what better time to try again than for this challenge. Last night I hauled out for a ride and actually had my boyfriend with me for once, so I figured it the perfect opportunity to attempt some counter canter AND get the attempt on video! Without further hesitation, I give you Penny and I's attempt at right lead counter canter.
I started with right lead canter going large, riding shoulder fore to straighten her and get her more balance under herself. Then add a 15m circle to further set her back and help create bend. Then again down the long side in shoulder fore, and across the diagonal to change rein into the counter canter. I was only going to ask for a few strides but she gave me such a good feeling we carried on along the short and long wall! It's a bit hurried, it's a bit unbalanced and hollow, but we did it! What we couldn't do even one stride of a few months ago, we now did about 20 strides of, and it didn't feel all that terrible! We can now keep building on this, and have another exercise to help strenghten her canter even further.
This was such a fun challenge that I might have to do another one.
So go, give the No Ceiling challenge a try!