Friday, February 10, 2012

In which after 24 years + ~$200,000 and in 1 Trip to Florida I Finally Learn to POST the Canter and How NOT to See a Distance

I’m back! 

Yes for the last few days, I have been in Ocala, FL at Atkins Eventing. What an amazing adventure –I’m not sure where to even start but here goes!

The School Masters

The Atkins stable boasts several beautifully trained horses. And on my first day I was allowed to lesson on 3 school masters…honestly Peter need not have been present that first day as the horses in their kind, cheerful manner sorted me out. I can only imagine their conversations that night in the pasture...

“Man, we have a live one –she likes to go for the long ones so I added all the way to the base and let her ride my neck a bit.”

“Good plan. Her canter cues stink. I did my best impression of a Hambletonian winner. I think she got the message"

Lovely boys all –they not only improved my riding but managed to put up with me as I fumbled.

The Lessons

After being sorted out by the boys I started to learn in earnest. 

Peter: “POST the canter”

Voice in my head: “ WTF? What diagonal so I post the canter on?”

Peter: "Not that! Canter BACKWARDS with your body!"

Voice in my head: "Crikey. I think he wants me to turn around backwards. Might as well.That could actually improve my riding at this point."

But after watching Peter as well as his students ride the light bulb dawned…and as instructed I replayed it my mind that night over and over…and yes Peter – I actually DID dream about posting the canter.

Which leads to learning to NOT seeing a distance.

My typical MO in approaching fence:

75% of the time, I see nothing. So, I half-halt...
I still see nothing. Half-halt again...
Nothing. Nadda. Nope. Still don't see a thing. Shit.…so I PULL!
And we are either buried at the base or I kick for the long one. Yee-haw!

Mentally I know I should ride the rhythm and let the horse jump for me…physically I either pull to the base or throw my head and shoulder forward for a long one. 

At the end of my stay, it finally started happening in my head. Improve the canter and jump out of rhythm. 

As I rode to my last fence on Thursday I saw nothing…I immediately went to pull…but I stopped myself…posted the canter, kicked up the back and softened my hand…the distance was a bit deep but the horse bounded over easily! What a great feeling and a great way to end what has proven to be the experience of a lifetime for an amateur rider.

I feel I have SO MUCH to share still. ..but it is all still a bit of a jumble in my head. 

I know I have a new work plan for Moose –shorter duration, higher quality work. I want to learn more about the therapeutics used –from a vibrating, moving floor to laser therapy. I also saw a wonderful dentist at work as well as an equally gifted chiropractor. 

And before you ask –Yes, I did get to meet the famous “Henny”.  :)

More soon.


  1. Awesome! I think one of the hardest things to learn is creating the rhythm and letting the horse create the jump. Most of us amateurs find this difficult. Good for you.

  2. Thank you Barbara! Perhaps you can remind me in 2 months when the weather clears & I jump Moose again :)

    PS - remember our discussion about BNT that help working, middle class adults? Peter Atkins IS that coach. I think my trip totaled $250 & a bit of sweat equity...he is the real deal!