Step 1: De­velop the Cor­rect Can­ter

Practical Horseman - - The Complete Hourglass -

Jump­ing cor­ners con­fi­dently starts with hav­ing the right can­ter. A cor­ner is an ac­cu­racy test, and for these types of ques­tions I like to tone down the be­tween-the-fences gal­lop to a slower speed in the ap­proach. You still want a for­ward, pos­i­tive can­ter, but ap­proach­ing at a slower pace gives your horse more time to see the fence and un­der­stand the ques­tion. Be­fore work­ing on the cor­ner in the arena, prac­tice this can­ter, fo­cus­ing on your aids. The com­bi­na­tion of seat, leg and hand aids you use ap­proach­ing the cor­ner will give your horse every op­por­tu­nity to con­fi­dently jump it.

Then I sit firmly in the sad­dle in a de­fen­sive seat, bring­ing my up­per body back so it is up­right. My legs are in a steady, driv­ing con­tact with Al­ca­traz’s sides— think Phillip Dutton and his vise-grip legs—which makes it clear to Al­ca­traz that I want him to go for­ward con­fi­dently. This is the po­si­tion I use four to five strides in front of the cor­ner.

As I bring my seat closer to the sad­dle, I move both of my hands sev­eral inches wider apart to cre­ate a chan­nel for Al­ca­traz’s shoul­ders. This is the hand po­si­tion I use in the ap­proach to the cor­ner to en­cour­age him to hold his line. This hand po­si­tion and driv­ing leg aid will send him for­ward and make it very clear that you want him to jump the cor­ner.

Now I start to bring my up­per body back and slow Al­ca­traz from the gal­lop to a pos­i­tive, for­ward can­ter. This is the can­ter I es­tab­lish be­fore a cor­ner. To prac­tice, pick a marker in your gal­lop field, like a tree or jump. Prac­tice slow­ing from your gal­lop to your de­sired can­ter by the time you pass the marker. Depend­ing on how quickly you are able to slow and bal­ance your horse, you might need to start well back from the marker. The more you prac­tice, the eas­ier it will be to make that tran­si­tion.

You can prac­tice de­vel­op­ing the cor­rect can­ter in the arena or wher­ever you do your gal­lops. I start by work­ing in the be­tween-the-fences pace I use while go­ing cross coun­try— gal­lop­ing for­ward at a faster speed. You will be in two-point with your seat out of the sad­dle and your knee at a 110-de­gree an­gle. Be sure to shorten your stir­rup leathers enough so you can keep your back­side off the sad­dle in your two-point.

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