Amanda posted yesterday about her favorite exercises both on the flat and over fences, and asked us the question: what are our favorites?
Hands down, I love working on the counter canter. Performing a correct counter canter does so much for the horse and rider — improves balance, strengthens the hind-end, heightens body awareness, and incorporates all the “natural” aids and being able to use them independently (meaning hand, seat, and leg, not necessarily a crop or spur).
I periodically work at counter canter on both leads, although not daily. When I do work on it, it’s not for very long–just long enough to make sure Eli’s hind end is working right and he’s listening AND I am telling him the right thing. Sometimes I forget to use my seat and he falls into a trot. I don’t have a problem with him swapping out during the counter canter, at least!
I have written about his one before: I love the tight oxer-to-oxer two-stride exercise, described in great detail in an article by Peter Pletcher, a Houston-area hunter/jumper trainer.
First off, it’s fun. Second, it’s simple. Third, it works.
Two oxers, 33′-34′ apart. Canter in and let the horse back himself off. I add a cross-rail in front sometimes, same distance–this makes it a little easier to get to the deeper distance you want coming into the first oxer. It is more of a challenge for me without the cross-rail, so I think doing it both with and without is a good way to help establish that elusive “feel” for it that we all chase after.
Can’t wait to read about everyone else’s favorites!