After Barbara watched me try to canter off we had a talk. We both know why PJ has trouble picking up the canter: because he’s not pushing from behind, so he’s not reaching over his back and he’s on his forehand, so he has to throw himself into the canter. She thought the best thing to do would be to put him in triangle reins. These are reins that connect from the bottom of the girth, through the bit and then back to the girth under the saddle flap. The point is to keep his head down (and out), but they’re not very tight – no Rolkur here! It’s just a way for PJ to figure out how to keep his own back round.
She put me on the lunge with PJ in the triangle reins. We were hoping I could ask for the canter depart that way, but he seemed unsure of the reins, so I got off and Barbara just lunged him. I watched, and it was very obvious that he was starting to get it. He changed his neck angle and head height until he felt comfortable – that’s the beauty of these reins – he can adjust himself but up and down and out and in.
We are going to try this before I ride for a couple of lessons. PJ picks things up pretty quickly, so it shouldn’t take long. Just a slightly different approach but still holding true to the classic principles of dressage.