Downward Transitions, Help! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-23-2012, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
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Downward Transitions, Help!

I'm open to suggestions on this one. I'm training a 5yo OTTB. He's been doing great! Couldn't ask for a more willing horse to learn. I know it takes a lot of time and patience so please dont take this as I'm rushing everything, I'm definitely not. I'm just merely looking for ideas and suggestions to make things better.

I'm having some difficulty in downward transitions. He goes from moving nicely and collected to a beast when I ask to go from a trot to a walk, or walk to a halt, or trot to a halt, etc. He throws all his weight on his forehand and pulls his head down as far as he can. Knowing this, I stretch up very tall and use my chest to try to get him to still use his hind end through the transition. Some days are better than others, so he is improving, but I feel it is a constant battle.

I do plenty of spirals, circles and figure 8s at varies sizes, transitions (upward and downward) at random points on all patterns or just going on the track.

Anyone have any ideas on how to help him stay engaged through his hind end through downward transitions?

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post #2 of 8 Old 10-23-2012, 04:17 PM
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I have much less experience training than you do, so take this as just a wild idea, ok?
maybe he needs to learn to have more and better respect for the bit first, before you work on him making transitions with his hind engaged. You know how they say ride the horse from back to front? But, if the front isn't "there" , then there's nothing to ride him TO.

So, maybe start getting him more responsive to the bit in just plain comeing to a halt, first, then coming to a halt and rocking back off the bit (soft in the poll and a tiny flex of the jaw to the "inside" ((whichever side you decide is the inside)), and then actually have him stop and back up a step or two.

Once he is more responsive to the bit, you shorten this to the place where he is not sure you are going to fully stop, or just half halt and then continue on.

Then, you start getting him thinking halt with seat and rein, when you feel him start thinking to rock back, you firm up your hands (the front) and ridethe back into that front.

One thing that helps with a horse that does not want to stop is this: once you feel the horse has got the message to stop, and he has started the process, give him a release in front BEFORE he actually stops , trusting that he will fnishe the process on his own , as if it's his own idea. I find this works well with Zulu, who sometimes doesn't want to stop.
If there is a big reaon to run, like other horses running in front, it will not work, of course.
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-23-2012, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the idea Tiny! I actually started doing that last night so I'll have to see how it goes for him. He usually goes light and responds well to everything I ask, except for his downward transitions. He just feels the need to brace against me. I dont think I can engage my core anymore than what I am.

During one our our walk to halt transitions last night he decided to back up a step or two while at the halt and I had that "AHA" moment. I'll continue with that for a while to see if there is any improvement. Sometimes the horse really does tell you how to do it, you just have to be open and listen.

Any other suggestions are welcome!

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post #4 of 8 Old 10-23-2012, 04:56 PM
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I love what Tiny said, she always has a great way if explaining things!
My horse was so sensitive when I firt got him that any upward or downward transition was like right there....only he was behind the bit and just be ultra sensitive to all my aids. To took him to the lunge line an worked a lot there. Before my rides I would just do transitions and change if direction on the lunge line (I started without any side reins and once he was confidant and really doing it in added in the side reins for him to get used to the contact while doing transitions!) this made my riding him not be so stressful and frustrating and getting stuck on one thing! I also used my voice a lot while on the ground, very encouraging and positive and many sugar cubes to help the positive reinforcement. Once he really started getting it our rides where so much eaiser to startbworking on other things!
Starting from the ground with any horse is a must and can be very good for both horse and trainer, but green babies...TB's it's a must!
I did this for a couple months, slowly making the transition to using side reins and getting him comfortable with that!
I'd love to see video if him! He sounds just like my guy! He is a 6 year old Dutch/TB and I had transition issues when I first got him last year when he was 5.
Now with a solid 8 months if training level dressage work and time off from any jumping work he's really getting it and having fun with it. We are now at the point of really using our corners and sitting I to them and using our power in the bigger numbers to come out! It's very fun!
Good luck and keep us updated!
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-23-2012, 04:57 PM
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I have been working on downward transitions too.

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post #6 of 8 Old 10-23-2012, 06:01 PM
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Do you know how to ask for a half halt?

I always used a half halt to get the horse thinking about what I might ask next and then would ask with another half halt.. gentle squeeze (like squeezing a sponge).. immediate relase for any sort of give.

I like Tiny's idea as well.

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post #7 of 8 Old 10-23-2012, 06:09 PM
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A half halt is put together in three steps and you must have a steady contact throughout the whole half halt, including in the relase.
First you sit deep and bring all your weight down I to you heels and seat (think of a long deep breath while you do this, you should feel your horse slow down and sit down on their hind end more, as soon as you feel this power up, while keeping steady con act. Use your body to set the rythem. Once you have the horse papers up beneath you send that forward power into a working gate. This was explained to me by an amazing trainer I ride with in clinics and the explanation is amazingly helpful. Hard to explaining writing but easier with a horse infront of you!
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-23-2012, 06:54 PM
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Agree with Tiny & what's said above re training, but do consider physical reasons. Back, saddle & hoof probs for eg. can be at the root of it, in which case the best training in the world might not acheive any better than average.
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