I finally got brave enough to canter Phantom yesterday. You'd think we'd have this ironed out by now, but I haven't consistently taken lessons (for a variety of reasons) during my partnership with Phantom.
My Big Goober Boy (Indy being my Little Goober Boy) attempts to crossfire during the trot to canter transition. This requires popping his rear end as he attempts to arrange his hind legs in a contra-indicated position. This move also pops me out of the saddle. Which means I have to be secure in the saddle before we attempt the initial canter depart of the session. Once we've struggled through the first canters in both directions subsequent canters proceed smoothly.
Now, I know the fix for the problem is to properly set up Phantom before asking for the canter (forward, soft on the bit, responsive to the leg). Leg yielding off the inside leg at a corner or on a circle is generally our best bet for success. But there are those days when we just can't get our act together, or Phantom offers the canter before we're really set up. Heck, I'm only human. I get impatient or go with the flow knowing it will be a struggle.
The lead up to yesterday's canter has been several months of a disrupted riding schedule. It began with Phantom's girth galls. While waiting for the raw areas to heal I rode briefly at a walk. A new string girth solved that issue. Then my mother broke her hip. Once she pulled through and was on the mend I hoped to resume my barn schedule -- only to discover Phantom was mysteriously lame. Trainer Julie loosened up a stiff shoulder but then Phantom had more time off while our schedule was overtaken by therapist visits and doctor appointments. Finally, life returned to a version of normalcy in November.
Phantom, of course, has been enjoying daily turnouts and galloping around with the boys. I'm the one who had to get back in shape. Which involved feeling secure enough to stick in the saddle while Phantom rearranged his hind end for a canter.
So -- yesterday's canter was an accomplishment. I'll take 'em where and when I can get 'em.