Trot to walk transitions
When my mare does a downward transition from trot to walk she "slams on the brakes" and does a slow pokey walk. I transition her by standing up straighter in the saddle and exhaling. Do I just need to use leg as she starts the walk to make it a smoother transition? Thanks in advance!
It sounds like you're using your "stilled seat" either too abruptly or too "loud". Stilled seat is good to downshift, and includes stretching taller, gently curving the lower back, and tightening the abs. The degree of the seat change determines the reaction. Maybe try not stretching so tall, not tightening quite so much, giving a more subtle stilling. See how little you need to change to get a smoother response.
Here's a video that really helped me out with improving transitions. The whole thing is definitely worth a watch, but if you're pressed for time the info on the stilled seat specifically starts around 4:34
Thank you - I will check out the video and experiment this afternoon.
To answer your question...yes, you still need leg. The downward transition is a 'forward' movement. You don't just stop using the leg because your transitioning down.
It sounds to be as if your horse is transitioning off the forehand, instead of off the haunches. The more engaged she is, the smoother the transition and the more forward the horse is into the next gait.
how do I get her more engaged?
Start with the video Scoutrider provided for you and see where that gets you.
Thank you Scoutrider for sharing that video - I've been riding for 15 years on and off but in no way consider myself an experienced rider as It's never been constant. Watching that video has shown me so much! Can't wait to ride over the weekend and try those different seats out!
A great exercise for working on establishing a good seat in downward transitions is as follows:
Start in the trot, on a 20m (large) circle. Spiral the circle in so that you have between 3-5m between your track and the wall, make sure you aren't making the circle too small though. From here, work on leg yielding the horse out slowly using your inside leg to move over and outside rein to keep the horse straight and regulate how fast you're going sideways. Part way through your yield, ride a transition to walk and keep yielding.
Try the whole exercise just in walk first to make sure you and your horse understand the yield. After you have mastered the exercise, then every time you want to walk, think about the yield wherever you are in the arena, but don't actually do it.
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