In April we took Pea to the saddlers as we figured his saddle wasn't fitting too great due to him changing shape and gaining more muscle, which we thought could be why he was struggling in the canter. The saddler compared his shape to the last time and stated he was a lot leaner and that the saddle was slightly wide so she changed the gullet and it fitted a lot better, however he was still refusing to canter. She suggested doing the girth up using the 1st and 2nd straps as opposed to the 1st and 3rd as he is quite compact and so spreading the girth out could be causing him a bit of discomfort. He was still iffy though slightly better so she suggested to stick with it for a bit but if nothing improved after a couple of months then maybe take him back and try a different saddle - something my dad and I were not too keen on hearing! He was still a bit in canter for the next few days and during a lesson I asked my instructor whether to get the physio, chiro or a massage out for him. I also mentioned that when grooming his hind-quarters, especially at the back, he would sometimes get a bit grumpy and flinch. She took a look at him and found that he was quite tight in his muscles and that this was most probably due to the cold weather we had been experiencing and as he was standing with his bum to the cold weather, he tightened his muscles. My instructor suggested waiting for a week before calling anyone out as warmer weather was due so it would probably relax his muscles and save the need for calling someone out. True to her word, just a week later I was lunging him and he went mental! He randomly started cantering when I asked for trot and refused to stop for a good few laps, very different from the norm where I'm normally trying to push for him to canter even one lap! Since then he has just been getting better and better!
I didn't take him out competing in April to just focus on his canter and getting him stronger and better. His schooling was really coming along nicely and the canter is getting better and better! In May I took him to a dressage and did two prelims which he did very nicely, especially considering being unable to canter in the warm-up as he likes space to canter, especially initially as he can still be a bit tight about it, and the warm-up arena was quite small so I left it to chance and just cantered him in the test. He was so good, had a few moments but got nice comments from the judges and showed a lot of potential. (There's a report about it here). I was especially pleased as his canter on the second test got 7's, well the second canter did. The first canter originally got a 7 but Pea being Pea decided to buck so dropped them to 4's for the first canter!
His canter is getting stronger and stronger each time I school him and we're currently working on him not getting too strong and leaning and also he tends to try and rush and then buck in one particular corner so I'm working on keeping him in the same rhythm but keeping my leg on to prevent him from bucking. It's a bit tricky but he soon gets the idea when he realises he has to keep cantering the corner until he stops!
I'm hoping to get him out in the next few weeks with a definite outing planned at the end of the month so fingers crossed his canter is much improved and the marks show for it!
Thanks for reading,
Laura & Pea x