Downward transitions....I'm struggling a bit - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 09-12-2011, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Downward transitions....I'm struggling a bit

I've been working on downward transitions. My trainer is very helpful but I've found that so many times I think I understand something and then I read advice on this board and it just "clicks" so much more.

We are going from canter to trot and then trot to a walk.

Sometimes it's fluid and the transition is nice and other times I feel like I'm jerking all over the place like someone who can't drive a stick shift in a car. Not pretty!

Any bits of advice? My trainer was explaining how to collect the horse and while I know what it entails, trying to do it was much harder.

Actually, do you collect a horse in the downward transition? I think she said collect. When I'm focusing hard on riding, sometimes I have a hard time listening.
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post #2 of 13 Old 09-13-2011, 05:11 AM
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i find this a challenge too at times.
my instructor always is good at getting me good at it :)
so just say your cantering, make sure yur horse is collected and got a good even pace, when you ask down, i am told to stop moving to the motion as much, half halt, but keep your horse on the it's hard to actually put this in words!!!
my horse has big flowing movement, he will go from canter to a really slow trott and i almost tip over his neck! LOL so i'm in the same boat as you...

good luck!

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post #3 of 13 Old 09-13-2011, 01:01 PM
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I'm having issues with it too, although getting better. The very important thing you still have to keep leg on, not just "let it go", so the transition would be from say working trot to working walk (I have problems with my lazy-side qh).

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass: it's about learning to dance in the rain..."

"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."

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post #4 of 13 Old 09-13-2011, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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The very important thing you still have to keep leg on,
This is what my trainer said. I'm having a hard time understanding how this works. Squeezing is the accelerator. So I guess we have to keep leg on the horse but not squeeze?

I previously posted about how much trouble this mare hen was giving me with trotting and moving forward. She's basically slow down and stop on her own. Well, now we've worked past that and she's actually doing what I tell her and now I have to be the one to slow her down, lol. I didn't realize how difficult a smooth downward transition is. wow.

Some of the transitions were good but some were just terrible.

So how exactly does one collect the horse? I know collection is the horse shifting its weight back to its hind legs. What is the best way for the rider to start this?

I'll think I understand my trainer and then when it comes time to do it, I realize that I don't really get it.
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post #5 of 13 Old 09-13-2011, 04:45 PM
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If you do not keep the motor running (impulsion coming from behind towards the front) your downward transition will end up in the horse falling on its front end. That is why you have to keep your leg on when you ask for a reduction in forward movement.
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post #6 of 13 Old 09-13-2011, 04:50 PM
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By keeping your leg on, your horse won't become strung out. Even though it is a downward transition, you need to "push" them through it.

Collecting slightly before a transition, either up or down, helps gather up the horse as well, and keeps the horse together, since the horse should be off the forehand and his hindquarters engaged.

I find half halts work well for downward transitions as well, as it gets the horses attention before you ask for the transition.

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows. --Epictetus
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post #7 of 13 Old 09-13-2011, 06:22 PM
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You need to learn how to ask your horse for a half-halt. The first time you perform a half-halt, you must learn to do it by walking, then half-halt, then full halt. A half-halt is like touching the brakes of your car. As you walk you follow the horse's head (direct reining), or neck reining, be choked up enough to halt without putting you elbow behind your back. You see, every movement is a forward movement to the horse, so you cue forward to slow down. First, you must correctly halt your horse. Here's how to do it:
You push the horse forward from a halt into a walk with your legs, you follow with your body (relaxed) and you cue with your legs if your horse slows. To effectively halt, you push the horse forward with your legs, but you STOP following with your body (lean back a bit) and you STOP following with your reins. The horse stops, then you release (sit up straight, stop pushing with your legs, stop the pull on the reins.) Sit at the halt so your horse is clear about your aids.
Now try a half-halt. Here's how to do it:
You move forward at the walk. You stop following the head and stop following with your body for just a moment, but then cue foward with your legs and give with the reins to move the horse out. It's certainly okay if your horse thinks you want to stop. It will keep him on his toes when you surprise him and ask to keep going.
You MUST master this at the walk before you apply it to the trot, or try to collect your horse with it. Certainly you do not try it the first time in a downward transition. Once you learn to do this you'll find yourself half-halting quite a bit. Your horse will listen to your body much more when schooled with a half-halt. You won't need to worry about slamming him in the mouth to stop or slow down bc he'll soften more to the bit, since you won't be braking hard to stop him. Hope this helps you. If you need a visual PM me and I'll search for a good utube video to watch. =D
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post #8 of 13 Old 09-14-2011, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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I think I'm getting it. Keeping the leg on makes sense. I've been reading about the half halt and that is making some sense.

I'm embarrassed until now I thought half halt was used to slow the horse down a bit.
Last night I was reading about it. I didn't know it's used to get the horse's attention and tell him that a command is coming. The articles I was finding were a page long.
That's where I struggle with so many things because a command that should take 1 second takes a page to describe. I was trying to find youtubue videos but the movement is practically invisible. I can't see what the rider is doing.

Corporal, if you know any good youtube videos, send them my way :)

So the half halt comes first. For the half halt I'm sitting deeper and keeping leg on and using giving the outside rein a squeeze.....then for the downward transition I'm sitting back and keeping leg on....I'm not pulling back on the reins, just letting the horse find resistance in them. Is that right?

My horse did exactly what you all are describing with putting her head down and my trainer said she was using the reins to balance herself. I want her to collect so in the downward transition she's using her rear to balance herself.

Is this right?

Last edited by Heelsdown; 09-14-2011 at 12:30 PM.
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post #9 of 13 Old 09-14-2011, 02:05 PM
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RE: your horse falling on her forehand (falling foward when she stops)--ALL horses are made with 4 legs, BUT they naturally carry more weight on their front 2 legs than one their back 2 legs. It must be that big 'ole head and neck! ha, ha When you add weight, then they will carry you AND their head and neck on their front 2 legs. For example, a 900 pound horse starts with 600 pound on the front legs and 300 pounds on the back legs, PLUS your ~150 pounds=750 pounds on the front 2 legs and the leftover 300 pounds on the back 2 legs. They KNOW how to shift their own weight backwards when it matters to them, but they're we were in gym class. Collection corrects this. Collection comes with hard work and it takes time. There is no need to apologize for what you don't know, or what your horse doesn't know. It's great that you have a coach as a good resource, and that will help you a lot! **hugs**
Sometimes I HATE the InterWEB!!!! I had some trouble finding more than one Good video for you, but I'll give you a short caveat before you watch this one. (Maybe someone else here has some more bookmarked.) Watch the rider tighten her lower back muscles and her butt--this is what YOU will practice, along with sqeezing your lower leg and stop following the bit. Ignore lateral rein talk, etc.--THIS is confusing until this vocabulary becomes part of your own vocabulary. K.I.S.S. and just stop following the horse to stop HIS movement. If you practice just THAT, the rest will make sense. I agree with ALL of the other stuff they talk about.
The Horse | How to Do a Half Halt (video)
BTW, sitting deep is best learned in MHO by riding long, long periods and learning to sit heavy in the saddle by becoming a tired and Relaxed rider. Otherwise I don't believe that sitting deep can be taught if you only ride an hour at a time. Many of my riding students (1985-1994) could still push themselves out of the saddle after an hour lesson, even when I worked them hard by doing things like posting without stirrups.
I'm sure that mastering the half-halt will really help your riding and really get your horse to listen to you. EVERY riding discipline uses it, even if they might have another word for it. LOL

Last edited by Corporal; 09-14-2011 at 02:14 PM.
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post #10 of 13 Old 09-14-2011, 02:21 PM
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Here is me in 1987 on my QH gelding, "Dandy Silver Moon." He was a very balanced horse, and we loved his collected trot, as you see here--
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