Cantering the Pattern
When you feel you and your horse have mastered walking the pattern and trotting the pattern then you are ready to canter. Starting to canter the pattern is probably one of the biggest steps to take because it can either make you or break you. Their are a lot of thing to make sure you are doing when you canter that I will cover later on. If you feel that your horse is getting out of hand then move back to trotting the pattern because he may not be ready to add speed yet which is totally fine because all horses are different therefore they take different periods of time to master the barrel pattern.
When you approach your barrel
-Canter to the barrel
- Stop your horse leaving about 4 feet between your horse and the barrel (make sure he does not go past the barrel, you may want to stop him a little bit before the barrel.)
- back your horse up a few steps
- Have him set his head
- Then ask him to trot around the barrel leaving about 4 feet around the whole thing
- Go around it at least 2 times (the number of times you circle the barrel depends on how long it takes to get a nearly perfect circle. Your horse should have good enough circles to go around only 2 times by the time you start cantering.) Make sure he stays relatively the same distance around.
- Then push him into a canter and head towards your second barrel repeating these steps
- Do the same for the third barrel
-Canter your horse to the fence when exiting the third barrel
Although the steps seem the same except trotting around and cantering to each barrel but there a little details you must think about. Make sure when you are heading to the barrels your horses has the correct lead. What is a lead? Well did you ever notice that when a horse runs he has one of his front legs leading or stretching out further than the other? The leg that is in front is the lead you are on. If the right leg is in front it is the right lead and if it is the left leg then it is the left lead. If you are turning left around the barrel then you want to make sure your horse has the left lead and vice versa; right turn.. right lead. Having the correct lead will help your horse keep his balance and allows for a smooth turn. When you advance to making real runs where you canter all the way through without stopping it will be a lot easier to have you horse on the correct lead if you practice that way.
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