Developing Supper Dooper Coopers- super canter requires, balance, strength, consistency .
The first time I cantered Cooper I was very happy that he gave canter a go with me on-board. One or two strides across the long diagonal and I was incredibly happy. I immediately rewarded his 1% try by getting off his back so he could feel release. The following canter sessions I mostly asked for canter down the long side of our arena. If Cooper showed a positive canter transition I was happy.
Once Cooper understood my canter seat /seat cue, I could begin to set up the aid so that he cantered on a specific lead and bend. We practiced this down the long side and across the long diagonal. I was surprised at how fast Cooper leant to coordinate my outside leg behind the girth with his outside hind foot initiating the canter. It wasn’t long before he was softly bending his rib around my inside leg at the girth and staying balanced as we cantered full laps of the arena.
The 20m Circle
I am not sure how many 20m circles Cooper cantered in the wild however, from my experience as a horse trainer I would say very few- if any. And even less with a rider on his back changing his centre of gravity and affecting his balance. A few weeks ago was the first time I asked Cooper to canter left on a 20m circle..... he tripped and we both went down to his knees before he recovered back up to his feet.
I knew Cooper was going to need some extra pilates training to strengthen and stretch his core if we were going to be able to achieve this together. Cooper loved it, we worked on side step rifting his rib and stepping his inside hind leg forward under his belly both on the ground and later under saddle. We worked on half circles in canter until Cooper had the strength he needed to hold me through the transition and stay steady on the 20m circle.
This week we have been playing with contact in the canter and have done most of our work in long reins. Cooper has learnt to yield in the canter and is seeking my contact without pulling or falling onto my hands. One of our outings this week was a trip to Ambers house @amequine_ for a session on he dressage arena. Cooper was a super star he loved the softer surface and made every canter transition confidently. His ears were forward as we cantered left, cantered right, even through in a few lengthened strides down the long side before collecting and shortening our stride for the corners.
Super Dooper Cooper is still improving every day and the level of his willing attitude is something I truly admire about him. I will aim to replicate in all of the horses that I work with for the rest of my life as a trainer.