And the Attack of the Fangtail
In case you are new to Follywoodspeak, I shall elucidate.
Here in New Jersey, we have the American whitetailed deer. These critters have a triangular shaped tail, often called a "flag" that is white underneath, so that when the deer runs away, the white tail waves in the air.
Now, horses, think these creatures are very dangerous. Well my horses think these creatures are very dangerous. Or, at least my Thoroughbreds think these creatures are very dangerous. Well, Toby and Tucker think these creatures are very dangerous. Hence, the name Fangtails, as they are most dangerous when they are running away. Heaven help us should we meet one face to face--except for the cute little spotted fawn PJ met one day on the trail.
Anyhow, after I schooled Tucker for a bit, I decided to go out on a hack in the woods. But the Fangtails were about! Thus, we did a dramatic spin to head away from them. It was actually a slow motion dramatic spin, quite easy to sit and it ended with a simple stop and a kind of, "Wow! what was that all about?" I turned him back out, but then I spied the Fangs myself and decided discretion was the better part of valor and headed back for home.
So much for the trail ride. Our school was quite interesting as Tucker is now really reacting to my seat. If I sit even a little crooked or if I'm too much weighted in one seat bone over the other, his walk gets all twisted. That'll teach me to do it right!!
The trot was just fine as was the left canter, but he really struggles to keep the right canter as balanced. Patrice has said the right canter is straighter, but I have always found it more difficult. It may be me, but after a bit of work we got a fairly good effort on Tucker's part. The idea is to keep him fairly slow and balanced enough that he does not drag down on the bit. It is an exaggerated slow tempo, so that makes it much harder, but I must say he was quite willing to try as I asked him.
Tucker does have a lovely, natural canter. This is a more difficult version of it and a new concept for him. Since the left is so good already, I am sure the right will come quickly. Counter canter will help a lot, so I will add that to the training repertoire.
For those who do not understand this horse talk, when a horse canters--which is like the gallop--he needs to balance by taking a longer stride with the hind and front leg in the direction that he's going. If he is going left, the left hind and front take a longer stride. This is called the "left lead." Conversely the other way is the "right lead." Counter canter would be to go to the left with the right legs leading instead. It is a schooling exercise that tests a horse's balance and, in that case, can also help a horse develop better balance. Cantering to the left on the right lead makes the right lead work a bit harder and the horse learns to better carry himself on those legs. I can increase the difficulty of the exercise to get even better balance by asking the horse to bend slightly to the left as well, making his body and the right leading legs have to do even more strengthening work as they need to carry him along and control the gait.
Once Tuck and I had escaped the attack deer, I took Chance into the ring for a school. I decided to start off on the left rein this time as he does not bend as well that way. After a bit of work at the walk he got the idea of stepping into my outside rein with his inside hind so we trotted and had some major success. I figured I'd end the ride on the right rein which is usually easier.
Well! The right rein was now as bad as the left usually is. I had to start all over again and correct that.
Conclusion? He is probably equal on each rein and works correctly on whichever rein I start off on.
Solution? Lots of changes of rein to develop overall suppleness on both reins at the same time instead of concentrating on one at a time. Seems to me early on Caroline was having the same issues with Tia and a little with Jazz. One side would be fine and then the other wouldn't be. I've always had horses that were one sided or the other in a fairly regular pattern. This is definitely an intriguing change. I have plenty of exercises to fix it, so no big deal. Since I have just discovered it, I will just change tactics.
After I was done with Chance, I offered Toby a nice little lunge. When he saw the halter and lunge line, he trotted around me in his "catch me if you can" circle and then, when he realized I was actually serious about it, he took off in a wild gallop out to the pasture with Tucker and Chance hot on his heels.
I don't think I need an interpreter to get that message.
Suffice it to say, Toby had the night off.