Without them, where would we be?
Well, we'd be trotting the same direction ad infinitum. Cantering until both horse and rider are so out of breath that they have to stop. Posting in a repetitive motion that goes forever more... sure to develop ring sourness and boredom.
What are transitions?
- change of gait
- change of direction
- change of pace
- change of movements
Maybe that's why I'm crazy about transitions! They're all about change. They make the ride fun, challenging, and fresh. They develop both the horse and rider's balance, coordination, sense of space and communication.
Try this "simple" (but not necessarily "easy") transition exercise just to add a little pizzazz to your normal riding routine. Click the images below to enlarge.
It's all straight lines. Straight lines are actually not easy to maintain, and changing gait within a straight line is even harder. But it's a great way to check your accuracy!
- In Part 1, you are riding on the rail to the right in trot. Negotiate each corner, go up the rail an transition to canter at B.
- Go through the next corner, then turn down center line headed toward X (still in canter). BEFORE X, transition to walk (or trot if you are riding a young or less experienced horse). Take 3-5 walk strides, then transition back to canter, left lead. Do your best to stay straight through the canter transition and to the end of the ring!
- Turn left at the rail, negotiate the corner in canter.
- Trot at E.
This is the end of the pattern on this side.
Now you continue your trot around the rail until you go to B, at which point you canter, left lead. Everything will then flip around: you come off the rail at C, simple change through X, turn right at the rail and trot at E. I didn't draw out the flipped pattern to save time.
This is what I call a "running pattern." You can keep going several times through the pattern, and you will end up working on both reins (sides of the horse and rider). It's important to always mirror what you do on one side to the other side, so as to develop equal strength and suppleness on both sides.
If you like this sort of pattern work, join my Practice Sessions Pre-Launch Group. The Practice Sessions are Modules of many exercises that work together to develop one major aspect of riding. The are currently two modules being prepared, "Focus On Transitions" and "Suppleness." There will be more Modules in the future, each dedicated to other significant concepts in riding horses. There will also be a private community and many more bonuses included. Click here to learn more.
If you do give the above exercise a try, click on the comments below and let us know how it went!
Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!
Ready for something completely different? If you liked what you read here, you might be interested in the new Horse Listening Practice Sessions.
This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.
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Read more here:
How To Improve YOUR Canter-Trot Transitions: Five great ideas to help you develop your aids and balance in these transitions.
Focus On Transitions - Week 4: This is a 4-week series of exercises you can take straight to the barn! Click on Week 4 and you will find Weeks 1-3 linked at the top of the article.
Crystal Clear About Canter Leads And A Quick Fix: The whole idea of staying on the "correct" lead is important in riding development. The main reason we worry about leads is to maintain balance, especially on turns and circles.
Stepping "Forward" in Horse Riding: The term ‘forward’ is used liberally in horse riding but is often misunderstood.
6 Ways to Unleash the Power of Your Riding Seat: As you become more subtle in the aiding process, you will begin to discover just how powerful the seat can be in guiding the horse without disturbing and interfering in his movement.