So. Canter poles.

We’d done them before, maybe once or twice, but very far back in the mists of time, back in the day when getting the canter at all was fairly up in the air, much less keeping a canter whilst negotiating foreign objects lying on the ground.

Much less jumping with them lurking before and after the fence.

I have gotten the hang of keeping my leg on in the canter. Indeed, I have verged on smug at times, watching other people do, and after the horse falters, thinking to myself, ‘Didn’t keep the leg on.’

See? Smug.

But with canter poles, well, in comes the seat.

The Seat. Tantamount to the mythical isle of Hy Brasil to the beginner. The seat: appropriately, the locus of the rider’s balance and control. Elusive, vital, the seat is the Holy Grail, your soul mate, and Amelia Earheart’s bones all in one. That is: to be sought after, yearned for, and convinced that it’ll never be found.

One way of finding it is riding over canter poles. I did this in my private lesson last week, and in the Tuesday’s group lesson, and I can’t get enough of it. It is hard. I had no idea how much I’m supposed to be using my butt! If I’m not driving from my seat, we don’t take the poles properly. And forget jumping. Ha! Rebel actually refused a fence on Thursday, a first for me, because I wasn’t doing it right.

And despite knowing all this, when we cantered in warm-up on Tuesday, did I drive with my seat? Did I hear go-go-go-go-go-go-go in my head?

Nope. Something else to think about [groans and falls over.]

So, canter poles are the new black as far as I’m concerned. Vital for the coming season, and something I don’t want to be seen without.

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