One of the responses to my last post asked, 'How does counting 'te-tum, te-tum, te-tum' in rhythm with the horse's front legs slow down the canter? This is a good question, and the answer is that I really don't know, except that it really demonstrates the phenominal power of attention, and it works every time!
Just being aware of the tempo and tuning yourself into it slows it down, and increases the chances that as you begin the canter, you can 'take the horse' instead of having him 'take you'.
This difference is so critical. When 'the horse takes you' he is in charge of the speed of his legs, and the rider is often reduced to 'pull and pray'. She looses the ability to 'bear down' with her abdominal muscles, and to match the force of his movement in every stride. She becomes the waterskier to his motor boat.
I watched a lesson a short time ago in which the coach was working with someone in canter saying things that were totally irrelevant, because with the horse 'taking the rider', only this situation could be addressed effectively. No other change was available to the rider, as the horse and the situation made her so powerless. The rider needed to be told 'bear down', and the lesson needed to be set up so that she had at least some chance of taking the horse - otherwise she was doomed. Counting 'te-tum, te-tum' would have been the best way to turn this around.
When you 'take the horse', you have changed the rules of the game, so that the horse is dancing to your tune, in your way, at your speed. This is a watershed of a difference, that makes so much possible. You can bear down, and you can give your hand forward. But to make it work, you must begin counting from the very first stride, miss that one and it may or may not work. Try it, and prove its effectiveness to yourself!