Issues with Transitions

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Issues with Transitions

This is a discussion on Issues with Transitions within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category
  • Horse pulls me out of saddle at canter
  • Canter to trot transition issues in a horse

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    06-20-2011, 07:19 PM
Issues with Transitions

I just bought a new horse, a ten year old OTTB, and he's been pretty good for the most part. However, whenever we transition from a canter to a trot he gets VERY heavy, he pulls his head down and almost pulls me out of the saddle. I was working on it with my instructor today and she was having me sit and stay strong in my stomach/back until he figured it out and would go back to a normal trot. He got a little bit better by the end, he's also not in the best of shape and definitely needs to build some muscle. I was just wondering if anyone had some suggestions or exercises that I could do, thank you!
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    06-20-2011, 08:24 PM
Sounds like you already answered your own question. If he doesn't have the necessary muscle to do a balanced downward transition, he needs more muscle. Do you have any hills around? Walking and trotting up, and walking down hills with horsie on the bit will build up muscles quickly. Heck, with a TB, he'll be packing good muscle in no time.
    06-20-2011, 10:25 PM
I'm not training dressage, but I have this very problem at the trot with my lesson horse.

My trainer tells me to think of my core as a tree, and my arms as tree branches. The horse can pull and move the branches, but the tree does not bend...and eventually, the branches come right back up to their natural level, bringing the horse along with it.

Of course, in the ring, this is more like...
Horse: Hahahaha. I will now seize the reins! <yank>
Me: (*@%^!&! STOP THAT.
Trainer: Don't forget! Be the tree!

The image really has helped me a lot, though.

Another thing - I don't know if this is an issue for you, but just in case - are you making sure to keep your hands really quiet? My lesson horse will sometimes start this nonsense up with no provocation at all, drat him, but he will almost *always* do it if my hands are less than silent.
    06-21-2011, 12:02 AM
As MBP said, you've answered your own question. Trot-canter-trot transitions are actually very hard work for a horse, particularly when being asked to stay light and uphill through the transitions. It takes a lot of muscle and fitness before you'll get perfect, uphill, balanced transitions.

Something that will help, is to do multiple transitions on a 20m circle. Start by cantering one full circle, then trotting for half a circle, cantering one full circle etc. Then start to decrease the time spent cantering, so half circle canter, half circle trot and so on. Eventually, you want to aim to be able to ride 1/4 circle canter, 1/4 circle trot, 1/4 circle canter etc.
Trot-canter-trot transitions are just brilliant for warming up a horse's back and starting to develop some swing in the warm up. If I lunge a horse before I work it, I'll do multiple trot-canter-trot transitions to soften the back. Works a treat!
    06-21-2011, 08:51 AM
Okay thank you guys! Yeah, I know he's doing it because he's out of shape, I just wanted to know any exercises I could do to help him along. We have lots of hills thankfully, so I'll be sure to do lots of hill work.

Haha serafina, that sounds pretty much like my lesson today! That makes sense,thanks. Yeah, I definitely don't keep my hands as quiet as I could, I'll keep that in mind next time I ride.
    06-23-2011, 04:39 PM
The way you ask for the downward transition will also help - so when you are centering and want to ask for a trot transition - use inside leg at girth and take a stronger feel on the outside leg - ask for a step or two of leg yield.

This will cause the horse to step underneath itself with it's inside hind leg - so horse will naturally carry itself mode and be on the riders hands less.

If that doesn't work then the minute he tries to bury his head and get heavy take the inside rein and "bump" it up - about 1-2 inches. Do NOT hold the rein - that encourages them to get heavier - instead a SMALL bump (jerk as in take and immediate release) on INSIDE rein only. Outside rein stays where it should be so after horse jerks head up in response to your bump horse should then return head to normal position.

But suggest you work on the leg yield technique first. Much less drastic and helps horse attain self carriage - which is what you want rather than the rider holding the horse up - whet horse wants!!!!
    06-28-2011, 12:21 AM
Originally Posted by Valentina    
If that doesn't work then the minute he tries to bury his head and get heavy take the inside rein and "bump" it up - about 1-2 inches. Do NOT hold the rein - that encourages them to get heavier - instead a SMALL bump (jerk as in take and immediate release) on INSIDE rein only. Outside rein stays where it should be so after horse jerks head up in response to your bump horse should then return head to normal position.
Well said.
Pulling takes two. If you don't pull, the horse cannot pull back. Use obvious (they can slowly become more and more subtle once the horse catches on) seat/weight aids to make the transition.
    07-18-2011, 02:49 PM
You can try by asking for the canter/trot transition by using inside leg to ask for ONE step of leg yield (inside leg into outside rein) and why doing this using outside rein to ask for trot. Horse will step underneath itself which will lighten forehand.

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