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This is a discussion on Transitions within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    12-14-2010, 12:19 PM

Sorry if I missed a thread about this already, I searched but if there is one already started just point me in the right direction!

I'm curious as to what everyone's methods to getting quicker and smoother transitions are. Both up in speed and slowing down.

My mare is currently at a trainers and a little bit on the lazy side (okay, she looks a lot on the lazy side). The trainer is working on getting her to respond quicker and I'm going to start going out there to work together to find out which way works best for me and my mare as a pair.

I like having a bunch of different ideas to work with horses because horses are all different and everyone rides slightly different. So if what my mare's current rider is doing works for them but doesn't work for me and my mare as a partner, I have some other ideas to try outside of what I've learnt on the few lazy horses I've ridden. It always seems to be hot wires that I ended up riding.

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    12-14-2010, 08:14 PM
I use the ask-suggest-tell chain of events to "install" gas and brakes.

To transition upward, I ask from the seat, then suggest with the leg, and if that fails tell with a judiciously applied whip behind the leg.

To transition down, I ask from the seat, close leg, close hands (no pulling, just closing the door forward).

Applied in that order, starting softly and escalating, builds up a recognizeable chain of events for the horse to think about. He'll eventually figure out that if he doesn't move off of the leg, he'll get a 'spank'.

A well-timed half-halt is also helpful in cleaning up transitions - it gets the horse's attention, rebalances and prepares him for the transition, etc.

Having a solid understanding of the classical seat helps loads with getting smooth and clean transitions. Even if you aren't a D-dressage rider, the classical seat is worth understanding. It's very difficult to attain that subtlety you're looking for without an independent seat, strong core muscles, etc. This is one of those many things that will really fix itself when you stop focusing on the horse's 'problem' and start focusing on your own. (Speaking from experience in a big way, here)

Good luck!
    12-14-2010, 09:25 PM
I think I agree mostly with SCout. Most of the time we don't have high enough expectations of our horses and they are masters at coming just up to our lowest expectation and not an inch farther. So, this required that the rider set the bar and remember where it is and ALWAYS require adherence to that level of expectation.
So, if you require your horse to transition up to the trot from the walk in two strides, when he hits three and he's not there, "your late!" and you better get after him. Thing is, it's the consistency that makes or breaks it. And I know how hard it is for me to be consistent 100% of the time.

Also, giving a fair warning to any change is important. Like inhaling right before the transition, or dropping your body down deeper into the saddle, kind of like "AND . . ". It's that kind of Pause of expectation that proceeds a change. Horses can easily feel you inhale. You can literally say "And, . . " as you inhale.
    06-04-2011, 07:27 PM
Thank you both. That was helpful. I'm having a hard time transitioning from a lope to a nice trot. Going isn't the problem. It's stopping and keeping the cadence looking nice and not falling apart. I know I need to look at what I'm doing, I'm not blaming it on the horse. But she can be a bratty mare sometimes!
    06-04-2011, 09:06 PM
Oh, so the down transition is the more trouble? I often use a rythmic exhalation of breath to help my horse get ready and tranisition downward in a step or too. So, while I am using my seat and body to signal that it's time to collect and shift downward, I exhale audibliy with each step the horse takes.

Another thing is that, if the horse won't take the next gait down, for example, lets say I am posting the trot and I want to walk, I use seat, soft leg and firming of hands and if the horse needs more, I move my seat into the position as if the hrose were walking. So, instead of posting I sit the trot, then I begin almost moving my pelvis as if I were following a walk and it's amazing how the horse will move to follow my motion.
    06-05-2011, 04:07 PM
In respect to my own horse, I have to remember NOT to sit deep, but to rise a bit from the saddle (hard for me!) when asking a downward transition, to encourage her to round her back, which helps keep her moving up from behind, while still keeping a leg on. My natural instinct is to sit deep: but this tends to make her hollow her back somewhat, and actually makes it harder for her to change the gait.

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