Whether your horse is a complete novice or at the dizzy heights of Grand Prix, transitions will be a key element in your riding and training programme. Both horse and rider benefit from transitions: the horses suppleness, balance, co-ordination and self carriage are all improved while the rider also learns feel and co-ordination.
Transitions really are the ABC of your riding and should be n integral part of your daily work. Use transitions from one pace to another and transitions within a pace. Once correct transitions have been established you can teach your horse the half halt which is an invaluable aid.
Note: Unless the rider is sitting in a balanced way it is difficult to execute a good transition.
The following will help with horses' across the spectrum.
- Try not to allow your horse to bear down on your hands as this will have the effect of pulling you out of balance making it more difficult for your horse to carry you.
- Transitions will help sharpen up your horse’s response to the leg aid and improve the connection from leg to hand. Initially your horse might halt with his weight on his shoulders but as you become more practiced at riding transitions he will start taking more weight on his hind legs.
- Make sure that, in an upward transition, your horse does not take too big a step in front, which could add to him being un-balanced. The aim is for your horse to move off with an even stride.
- If your horse is not even in the hand, work your horse on a 15 meter circle on the right rein, take a little bend to the outside to get a consistent contact in the left hand, when you feel you have the contact, bring the bend to the right and push your horses quarters out at the same time to encourage submission to the right.
- Try not to let your horse run away from his leg and make sure your horse steps sideways away from the right leg. Concentrate on keeping your right hand steady, rather than wriggle it backwards and forwards, which teaches the horse that contact is going to be inconsistent.
- Once your horse is taking a better contact, add another element to the transition – use of the half halt. In preparation for this make downward transitions from trot. It is important that you are clear and precise with your aids in the downward transition and be prepared to overcome the temptation to over-ride the upwards transition. In the initial stages of half halt, try not to worry about roundness – as your horse becomes more familiar with the work, the roundness will come.
- Change the rein and keep practicing the half-halt and it won’t be long before the half-halt becomes more subtle as your horse starts using his hind legs to better effect and the steps become more uniformed.
- Remember to be aware of your rein contact, occasionally bending your horse to the outside, straightening him and then bending back to the inside, this will soften your horse, take even contact and relax his neck.
- Try the transistion and half-halt exercise in canter, if you feel the canter going downhill, return to trot, re balance and strike off in to canter again. Occassionally for a couple oof strides, bend your horse to the outside as this will also encourage him to stay relaxed in the neck.
- Allow your horse to stretch at the end of each lesson
- Don't be afriad to ride with shorter stirrups at first to improve your stability
- Never underestimate the valur of transitions
- If your saddle is throwing you out of position, get it checked by an experienced saddle fitter
- When riding competition tests don't rush - You have paid your entry fee, so take your time.
- Use transitions, they are your check that you have a connection from leg to hand.