Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lesson #144: Canter Poles for Distance

Nov 2, 2014

For several days prior, I was torn about what to do because there was a clinic being held on the Sunday afternoon, following my regular Sunday lesson. It's a clinic I've been hoping for months, that Sheri would hold: a lunging clinic. But, I previously made plans to head out to a show in Toronto that speaks to a recently rekindled love: writing instruments and fine paper. After much deliberation of this common RPG dilemma (nerd reference that I have had little experience with... but at least I knew what it meant, +ADW!!!), I made the very difficult decision to skip the clinic in favour of the show. But it's okay, guys, I had a pretty interesting lesson.

Since the arena is being used for the clinic, the standards and jumps were being removed. All we were left with were poles. Sheri set them up as canter poles along the long side. I didn't think it was a big deal at the get go and figured it would be fine. The main purpose of this exercise is for us to be judging distance. We were reminded that the ground poles could effectively be jumps and we needed to forget about the jumps because being able to get through these poles was going to be challenging enough. Indeed it was very challenging! The first time I went through, I thought Ariel was jumping the poles because of her reach. I even lost my reins and had her careening around the corner. It wasn't pretty. I tried it several more times and many of those tries were rather... ugly. I needed to take control of the situation and half halt upon approach and then let Ariel do her thing through the poles. Sheri also added some trot poles half way on the short side so there was little time but we needed to be preparing for the next obstacle by slowing down enough to transition down.

After understanding the increased bounce of this exercise, I was able to give Ariel her head and I also had to half halt her on the approach and then get my heels right down. The few times I achieved the canter poles was amazing. Really. I went from a horrible mess atop to controlled and flowing through the poles. One of the reasons this was probably so difficult was that usually, there's only maybe 2-3 canter poles but when you have 5+, it's far more important that the distance is correct so that there isn't a need to over or under compensate distances at the later poles. But, that being said, the proof is in the pudding there when you realize that the distance at the start is incredibly important in order to get the correct distances at later "fences".

Definitely a challenging exercise that I hope we have the opportunity to do again!

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