I hope you've enjoyed working on the previous weeks' transition exercises. If you haven't seen them yet, click on the links below for the first two weeks. You'll find detailed descriptions of the aids for each transition in the text of the the first two weeks.
Things are getting a little more complicated this week! We're going to head into a bit more challenge with non-progressive transitions (specifically walk/canter/walk) and a walk/canter straight line transition. In general, straight line transitions are more difficult than transitions on turns (the horses want to fell left or right). There is also a canter loop and 15-metre circles at each end of the ring.
If you have a young horse or beginner rider, feel free to change the gaits to the ability level that is needed. For example, trot instead of canter, come off the pattern when needed (nothing is written is stone!) or make the circles larger. Always suit the exercise to the student and horse, and set them up for success before moving on.
Here we go!
- properly placed 15-metre circles
- straight and balanced canter-walk transitions
- Effective corners
- Transitions within a straight line
- Impulsion to, through and after the transitions
- Effective half-halts before and after changes (gait and bend)
Start with a strong, marching walk. Keep reins short enough for the upcoming canter transition. Legs should be on and seat is walking.
Half-halt two to three strides before the canter transition. This half-halt might be just a "whispering" half-halt because you are at the walk and there is little impulsion. Be sure your half-halt doesn't block the horse, but rather, softens him over the topline and prepares him for a deeper hind end stride as you head into the canter.
3. Canter Transition
Inside leg stays firm at the girth, helping the horse stay straight.
Outside leg does a "windshield wiper" movement behind the girth.
Ideally, these aids happen in quick succession, almost at the same time. Be sure that your seat continues in the canter after the first canter stride. You might need to keep your outside leg back over the first few strides to secure the canter lead.
4. Walk Transition
After achieving a rhythmical, strong canter, prepare to walk with a series of half-halts.
Both legs become active - they put pressure on the girth, asking the hind end to come underneath for the transition.
Half-halt a few strides before the transition.
Seat changes to walk.
You might need a few half-halts after the walk transition as well, to establish an active rhythm.
Once again, adapt this exercise to your ring size. The letters are there for reference only.
Start at the red arrow, just before C. You are walking on the left rein.
Canter transition at C. Left 15-metre circle beginning and ending at C.
Walk transition after C, before the corner. Walk through the corner, while preparing for another canter transition.
Canter loop from H to X to K. This requires the horse to do a mild counter-canter but maintain the left lead. You might need to encourage more activity through this part in order to maintain balance and roundness (work over the topline).
Before K, prepare to walk. Walk at K, before the corner. Walk to A.
Before A, prepare to trot.
At A, do a 15-metre left circle at trot.Continue through the corner, preparing to walk.
Walk at F. Between F and P, prepare for a walk to canter transition. Shorten the walk strides and increase the energy level. You might need to work at keeping your horse straight through this short walk as well.
Left lead canter at P. Maintain the straight line to M.
Before M, prepare to walk. Walk at M.
You can start the whole thing over and do the left side a few times before you change directions to the right side.
I rode this exercise myself this week with Cyrus. The transitions do come up quickly and the relative "straightness" of the whole thing gives little room for rest. But it kept us on our toes and had Cyrus working well from the hind end when all was said and done! His gaits got freer and more balanced as we went through it several times. His rhythm slowed a bit and felt more purposeful at all the gaits. The walk breaks gave us a chance to gather ourselves for the next part of the exercise.
Most importantly, it was fun!
Have you been working on these exercises? I'd love to hear how they are working for you. Leave a comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you liked this exercise, there are more in the works in our Practice Sessions series. Click here for more details and an exclusive pre-launch price offer just for Horse Listening readers.
Disclaimer: Use this as a guideline but you might need your instructor to respond to your individual needs. By using information on this site, you agree and understand that you are fully responsible for your progress, results and safety. Everything offered on this site is for entertainment purposes only. We offer no representations, warranties or guarantees verbally or in writing regarding your improvement or your horse’s response or results of any kind. Always use the information on this site with a view toward safety for both you and your horse. Use your common sense when around horses.
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Some reading to support the above exercise:
What To Do When A Half-Halt Just Won't Do: What to do if your horse doesn't respond to your half-halt.
"Go and No": The Connection Between Forward And Half-Halt In Horse Riding: We have to learn the coordination between “go and no” – all the while, keeping our balance to give the appropriate aids while not pulling on the reins.
Interpreting the Half-Halt: It is said that the half-halt has different meanings to different people.
Why Would You Bother To "Scoop" Your Seat Bones? Learning to use your seat effectively should take a lifetime to develop, so we will begin with just one basic aspect: how to move the seat bones.
Three Ways To Use Your Seat In Horseback Riding: The balanced seat is what allows us to develop independent hands, good riding posture and loose, supple legs that can aid at a moment’s notice.