Downward transition help
Today I worked transitions mostly. Halt-Walk, Halt-Trot, W-T, speed rating at the trot, W-C, T-C, and then Walk-Halt, TW, CW... Going upward we're doing well, and my posting has come leaps and bounds better... or his trot has improved dramatically, or both. Today was the first ride other than a trail ride in over a month, so I wasn't expecting magic, but there are some weaknesses I found that I'd like to work on.
One I think might be part me, part him- and that is downward transitions from a canter. I would like to go from a canter to a walk without dozen trot strides in between, but I'm not sure how to get there. He'll drop to a trot the minute I ask for him to slow, but he keeps trotting for several strides, and then is like, 'oh, what? slow down MORE? To a walk? Okay.' It's not as though he is resisting per se, in that he's not trying to take off again or anything, and is slowing his trot (rating) the whole time he's trotting, I just don't know that he's ever been taught that C to W is an option I can request instead, and I'm not sure how to teach him, or really, how I would even ask a trained horse for that. I've been assuming it was just the intensity of the stop request/cues that would indicate going all the way down to a walk as opposed to a trot.
The second issue I know is ALL me (and may well be contributing to the first). HOW do I position myself properly to stay balanced halting from a trot? My horse is very good at halting from a trot. I even think 'whoa' and he'll do it for me. I wind up too far forward and feel like I'm going to come off over his neck one of these times. Tips, tricks, etc? I used to be very bad with regard to leaning forward while posting, and now I'm just a little bad at that :oops: which I know has to be the root of the issue. Other than reminding myself to lean back further, anyone have any good suggestions?
I didn't dare try canter to stop, because A) he's out of some good reining and cutting lines and has the skillz and b) he WILL do it if I ask, as I have asked for a whoa a couple times when I got off balance at a canter, and was lucky NOT to come off over his head those times when he complied! :)
Canter-walk is actually a pretty advanced maneuver. It requires a lot of strength and balance on the part of the horse and rider. If you're iffy on your balance during a halt from the trot, I think that's what you need to work on-- your ability to use your core and your seat to ask for a halt is ultimately what enables skipping those gaits in a downward transition. The canter-walk will come in time.
I bet seat deepening exercises will help-- especially sitting the trot and learning how to move with that motion (even if you can only do it for a few strides at a time; that's really all you need). Then a trot-halt is simply a matter of sitting your trot and deepening your seat while tensing your core, shoulders back (think of pulling your shoulders away from your ears), exhale-- that is what is going to keep you balanced. Your body is what controls the flow of movement in your horse, blocking it or facilitating it. Make sure that when he halts, it's because you blocked his flow-- not because he anticipated your request.
I'm not a trainer, but if I was teaching the canter-walk and I knew the horse had a good stop... I might ask for a halt from the canter but keep my legs urging forward into the walk as soon as the transition is accomplished. I think that once CW is an "option" you can use the depth of your seat in combination with your leg to indicate CT versus CW.
I hope this helps! I've learned most of this by feeling it change as my riding improves, and thinking "OH! That's what that means!" :D
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