By Eliza Sydnor Romm
Today’s exercise is all about collection in the canter – either at the highest level (canter pirouettes) or at a slightly lower level of a very collected canter.
I learned this exercise from Morten Thompson. The rider starts in a large, working walk pirouette, over the centerline of the arena. You can make the walk pirouette as large or small as you need, depending on the level of your horse. From the working walk pirouette, pick up canter into a working canter pirouette. Maintain the canter for only a few strides if your horse is just learning, or if your horse loses its balance, straightness or connection. Return to walk (still in the working pirouette), improve the straightness or connection for a few strides, and then return to canter.
For many horses in the pirouette, they begin to get crooked, fall in (spin) or step out. Returning to walk and addressing this for a few strides makes it easier for the horse to understand. And it also slows it down for the rider, so she can feel what went wrong, and what the horse’s tendency is.
Each side will be different. In the video below, my mare, Flow, tends to step out in the right lead canter, and tends to fall in in the left lead canter. Tracking right, I can return to walk, and put her in more of a haunches-in before picking up canter again. Tracking left, I can push her haunches out for a stride or two in more of a turn on the forehand, before returning to the canter.
For an easier version, stay on a 10 m circle and practice walk to canter and then back to walk. Same principles apply – if the horse is trying to rush off and make the circle bigger, walk and turn the shoulders more or possibly ride a few steps of haunches in before picking up a collected canter again. If the horse wants to fall in and get slow behind, walk and leg yield the haunches away, trying to activate the horse’s inside hind before picking back up the canter.
Try it out and tell us what you think!
About the Author
Eliza Sydnor Romm is an FEI rider and trainer based in Snow Camp, NC. She is a USDF Certified Instructor Training-Fourth Level, successful competitor through Grand Prix, and popular clinician. Eliza, and her assistant trainer, Kate Tackett, work with horses and riders of all levels and specialize in starting young horses under saddle. Visit www.elizasydnordressage.com for more information, find her on Facebook @ElizaSydnorDressage, and subscribe to her YouTube channel for some great instructional videos!