I CANTERED NORTH TODAY!!!! Heehee. It felt incredible.
Had a lesson with Helen yesterday that ended up in us arguing about me cantering North. She wanted me to just do it. Just canter him. I argued NO, my seat's not good enough, and he's too unbalanced and crazy in the canter. SHE needed to canter him and teach him how to carry himself, so that I could be able to canter him. The last time she cantered him was mid January and it took 5-6 attempts before she could get him going somewhat normally on the correct lead. Because of his track training, canter to him means explode into an unbalanced, crazy gallop and I just don't have the seat or balance to teach him that it needs to come from the back and not the front.
We went back and forth for several minutes before she finally gave in and got in the saddle at the end of our lesson. And of course, just like in January when we had this same argument, I was proven right again. The first attempt wasn't bad at all. He picked up the wrong lead, but she just changed directions and kept him going, albeit a little fast, but he did well. The second attempt, he decided to brace and ignore her canter aid. She asked him to relax and soften and tapped him with the whip. Out of nowhere, he threw a huge buck and leaped forward almost giving Helen whiplash cause it was so unexpected. Much like he did with me in "the spook", but this clearly wasn't a spook and all attitude. Unfortunately for him, Helen has a much better seat than me and he got a one rein correction and was sent forward. He quickly realized his mistake, got back in line and was praised.
From then Helen was all business, and he responded accordingly. Previously, when cantered, she just kinda let him trot fast until he picked up the canter, and he often picked up the wrong lead. But now he is stronger and more balanced, so this time, when she asked for the canter, she didn't let him just jump into it, but actually use his hind and think about it. He got it on the 3rd attempt and she lavished him with praise. She changed directions and asked again and he picked up the correct lead on the first attempt and went into a lovely balanced canter. Once more in the other direction, and I swear it was the nicest I've ever seen him canter. She followed up in the downward transitions, asking him to stay connected. She got 3 good transition from him and then praised and ended the ride. From start to finish, I swear it was only about 10 minutes, and it literally changed everything. She said she would try to canter him again this week, but we were both really happy with what we saw.
So last night I went home and watched the videos from my ride and Helen's. When I say North is a smart cookie, I'm not even kidding. And this is the reason I have been able to do so well with him. Because Helen can get on and teach him something in one ride, and when I get on again, he remembers. I just have to make sure I'm doing it correctly. So when I went out today, I already had in the back of my mind that I would try to canter him myself. From the very start, the ride was fantastic. Both our upward and downward transitions were amazing. He was a bit behind the leg at times, but I figured he might have been a little tired from the day before. Regardless, it was one of our best rides. He was so consistent in the connection and really in tune to me and paying attention. So I decided to throw all my reservations out the window and just do it.
He picked up the correct lead the first try. He didn't run, it wasn't crazy, it was actually really nice for our first go and I was ecstatic! But after our first try, he was anticipating and a little running in the trot, so I didn't ask again. We did a couple trot rounds and then I brought him back to walk and halt and praised him. He was good, GREAT in fact, and that was all I needed. I was beaming from ear and to ear. My guy was there to take video so as soon as I got him back to the barn, I sent it to Helen. She couldn't believe it. Lol. But I know my horse, and he's a baby, and I feel like he needs to fully understand what is being asked of him. I'm not a strong rider, so I don't think it's fair to him for me to get on and try to make him do something that I can't clearly communicate. And that's what I argued with Helen, but now I think she finally understands.
So yea, AMAZING day! Below is some of our video today with a few strides of our canter. I'm so in love with this horse! <3