bits & pieces QUICK TIPS tips from top professionals
Hunter/Jumper Pointers With Taylor E. Knapp of Crosswinds Equestrian Center
How can I make sure that I get the correct lead when I pick up the canter?
One of the greatest challenges that young riders have, especially in the show ring, is making sure that their ponies and horses pick up the correct lead when transitioning to the canter. Not doing this can cost a rider the win in a flat class, or cause his or her mount to be unbalanced on the way to a jump. I often see riders rush to pick up the canter and forget to set their pony or horse up correctly, which can result in them picking up the incorrect lead. To make sure you start with the correct canter lead, there are a few important things to remember: The rider always needs to stay balanced and correct in his or her position. Sit securely in the saddle and keep your shoulders back. Tipping forward or leaning to the side makes it hard for your pony or horse to stay balanced. Your mount needs to know in which direction he is going. If you ask for the canter in the middle of the ring and your pony or horse is not sure which way he is going to be turning, he will pick up whichever lead is more comfortable, not necessarily the correct one. Help your horse or pony know which lead to pick up by shaping his body the same way he is turning. Think about shaping his body in a big letter â€œC,â€? with his nose slightly to the inside of the ring, his shoulder and belly to the outside, and his hip to the inside. It is always easier to pick up the correct lead on a turn rather than a straight line. When you go into a jumping class and are making an opening circle, ask your pony to pick up the canter when you are turning a
| March 2013
corner near the rail, not as you pass through the center of the ring. In a flat class, you are normally asked to walk, then trot, and then come back to the walk before the announcer asks you to canter. Before the announcer says canter, try to position yourself on a turn or in a corner. A good trick for this is making a circle. Remember: a judge would much rather see you take the extra time to properly set up your mount for the correct lead than rush into the canter and risk picking up the wrong one.
TAYLOR E. KNAPP is a professional rider and trainer based out of Crosswinds Equestrian Center, which is owned by her mother, trainer Joann Knapp, in Dutchess County, NY. Taylor is shown here with five-year-old Hudson C. Heinemann.
TOP PHOTO: AK DRAGOO PHOTOGRAPHY
A judge would rather see you take the extra time to set your horse up for the canter than rush and pick up the wrong lead.
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