I'm looking for exercises to strengthen Canter to trot transitions
So far things have gone really great with Cinny since his ulcer treatment. We are now back into full work and he is having to re-learn a few things. His stride is more relaxed and BIGGER so he is now rebalancing himself. His head is more steady and now he is trying to figure out where his "sweet spot" is. Everything is going very well except for one thing.... once we are in the canter he just wants to stay at that speed...it's like we are stuck in 5th gear.
This is what happens.... I ask for a canter and go a few times around the arena, then I give a couple of little half halts to let him know a change is coming and then on the 3rd one I give a little stronger half halt...I guess you would call it a 3/4 halt lol and ask for a trot, sometimes I have to say it verbally. Usually what I get is a mild head shake, a couple crow hops and an extended yet bouncy unbalanced trot and a fight to go back to canter. At this point I usually sit a littler deeper and keep asking until he finally settles into a working trot but it takes us about the whole long side of the arena for him to settle back into it. I've tried "blocking" him with my reins when he does this and releasing as soon as he gives me what I want but he still did it EVERY time. So then I thought maybe I was getting into his face too much and let him have his head a bit more (like a free walk) asking with a deep seat, then picking up tighter contact again... no dice.
He does walk/halt transitions, trot/walk/trot transitions, and trot/halt/trot transitions beautifully and with no fuss at all. It seems that once I put him into his canter something takes over his brain and everything goes out the window with him. I've even tried letting him canter until he wanted to stop on his own, then pushed him a little more...thinking he'd eventually get it out of his system and work...nope. Later on when I try a canter then ask for a downward transition he does the same old game.
On the lungeline there is NO problem, he transitions wonderfully from canter to working trot at just a mere voice command, this only happens under saddle.
I would LOVE to hear some exercises I can work on with him to help fix this. I have exhausted all of the exercises in "101 dressage exercises" that pertain to transitions and looking for something new. Thanks guys :)
First thing comes to mind: patience.
You're doing so well, but in many ways it IS harder for a horse to come back to the trot than keep going. A canter is a springing gait. He gives one thrust, then sort of rocks foreward, just rolling along on his other three springy legs. A horse can go a long way in a relaxed, casual canter!
I think you'll find your problems melting away as he gets stronger, no special exercises needed.:-)
I know a lot of it is strengthening, and I know there are exercises and the such I can do with him to help strengthen him in the areas he needs, just looking for more ideas to help him along.
I'm curious about the exercises you have tried already. I'm having the exact same problem, so just curious to see if any of your failures will be successes for me haha :P Sorry I don't have any tips for you, just mooching! lol :)
Trot/Walk transitions on a 20M circle, then 15, then 10.
Riding a square at walk/trot....3 times around the square moving haunches, 3 times around moving shoulders.
There is one I work on that is a trot up center line (starting at A and moving toward C), start leg yielding at X (either way), then at H or M ask for the canter. Canter 20M at C ask for trot before E or B on long side, and then do a 20M stretchy trot at E or B... repeat other side..... We have yet to master this one because he flips out as soon as I ask him to do a downward trasition to a trot so we don't ever acquire the stretchy circle.
He just feels comfortable is all. Horses really love to canter it seems.
When you go back to trot, do you do a sitting trot or rising trot? If you do rising (which I recommend to start off with !) you can sort of push more weight down the insides of your legs, exhale and you will feel heavier so he will slow down along with the progressively harder cue to trot with your reins and lack of following seat.
I think you should go back on the lungeline with your hubby lunging you for a little while. Work on that transition.
Another way you can do it is mark a spot in your arena that you always wind down on. It'll get to a point where your horse will begin to antitipcate it, so he'll slow down and trot when you get to that point. Then it's a point of slowing backing that point up farther or shorter so you start winding down before that given spot, or a little bit after. He'll slowly learn to listen to your cues. That's what I did when I taught Sky to canter on the ground. I picked a designated spot and once he began to trot there automatically I made the spot closer, then farther away, etc. It really helped him.
When you canter, you should be consistently asking him to keep a certain pace. If he gets too slow, add leg. Too fast, a few little halt halts. Eventually he'll get to cruise control stage where he manages off of your seat alone but for now you have to sort of be a little more instructive, if that makes sense.
Best of luck :)
I hope so! :) Best of luck, keep us updated!
Canter-trot transitions can be a real bugger! This is what I am focussing on quite heaving with my new guy, who is still lacking the strength and balance to stay round and together in these transitions.
Try riding some canter spirals, get down to an 8m circle in canter, bring the flexion a little more to the inside until you feel a give through the neck and wither, then leg yield back out to a 20m circle. As you get to the 20m circle line again, invisage 'posting' yourself to the ground. Drop your weight down into your seat, and think 'WALK'. Trot for a few strides, leg yield out slightly and pick up canter again. I find that asking for canter quickly after the downward transition, gets them taking a lot more weight behind, in preparation for the upwards to canter.
Millions of well ridden trot-canter-trot transitions will be your best friend!
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