A First Level Exercise

I am working to get Liam ready to show first level.  We had a great ride today practicing an exercise made up of first level “pieces”.   I wanted to work on transitions between trot and canter, and with a focus on staying round and balanced to enable an easy switch to the next movement.  Here’s what I did:

Trotting (sitting, since it’s first level) to the right, turn up the centerline at C.  Make a 10 m circle between I and S, proceed up the centerline and leg yield back to the rail from X to F.  Between F and A, pick up the right lead canter.  Canter across the diagonal from K to M, at X to a trot transition, then before M pick up the left lead canter.  Begin cantering a 20 m circle at C, at I make a trot transition and complete the 20 m circle at the trot.  At C, turn up the centerline.  (Now we are doing the same pattern the other direction) Make a 10 m trot circle between I and R, proceed up the centerline and leg yield back to the wall from X to K.  Between K and A, pick up the left lead canter.  Canter across the diagonal from F to H, making a trot transition at X and picking up the right lead canter before H.  Begin cantering a 20 m circle at C, returning to trot at I and complete the circle.  Proceed up the centerline at C and repeat (back from the beginning).

To make it even a little harder, the canter circles can be made 15 m at either H or M (depending which direction you are going).

I like this exercise because it is varied enough that it kept Liam guessing.  If I practice trot/canter transitions just by riding a figure 8 across the diagonals and making the trot at X and then picking up the other lead, it only takes a few times before he starts anticipating, and the long, straight line lets us get lazy about staying “up” in the transitions because there is so much time to fix it if it falls apart a little.  I also like this series of movements because when I turn up the centerline, Liam feels like he’s anticipating the leg yield, so the circle corrects any sideways drift I wasn’t asking for (outside aids!).  The 10 m trot circle also helps collect and rebalance the trot before the leg yield.  Picking up the canter after the leg yield helps remind me to end the leg yield with my outside aids and not let him stop the sideways movement on his own because the wall got in the way.  This series of movements also flows well because the bend remains the same throughout except between the canter leads (the trot at X and pick up the other lead).

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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