Making the most of transitions

In this blog we discuss the importance of transitions with Linda Thomson from Dare to Dream Dressage, and she explains what we need to focus on in order to achieve great transitions every time.

Transitions are important!

Transitions are so important in flat work training in all disciplines, not just dressage.

They help get your horse to focus, listening to your aids, getting them more forwards or steadier, helps them balance and become more engaged.

I use transitions in every training session no matter if it's a young horse or advanced, the benefits are great for all.

Upward Transitions

1. When asking keep tall in your body and look up.

2. Keep the same even contact in the reins that you have had in that pace.

3. A wee half halt then lightly squeeze your lower leg around the horses side. The horse should react and move up. If they don't react then quickly apply a stronger leg aid and a wee tap with a stick (if suitable for horse). The quicker you are to correct the lack of reaction, the better it will be subsequently. This will help to get them in front of your leg.

4.Don't tip forward or look down. This will put weight on the horse's shoulder's and make them lose balance

5. Don't chuck the reins up the neck and throw away the contact. Your horse will wonder what on earth has happened to you and lose focus. They could also be confused and will lose connection.

6. Try not to bring your heels up when using your leg. Instead think more about using your calf.

Downwards transitions

1.Start with a deep breath in, engage your core, tighten your buttocks a little and lightly close your thigh.

2. Keep your contact the same with perhaps and only if needed a squeeze with your fingers. 3. Keep your lower leg close round there side to keep the forward energy throughout the transition.

4. Think it and use your body and you will be amazed at how in tune horses are with our body language. If your horse is not used to doing it this way but used to using the reins to stop, then it's going to take some practice. Don't expect a quick reaction until well practiced. If it's really not working then use a wee bit of pulling until your horse starts to understand. Trot to walk are great starting transition to get it this way.

5. Don't collapse in a heap during your transition because your finished and tired 😅 . Do a nice one then collapse. Don't forget horses learn from everything we do, the good and the bad. So one bad one and your horse will learn and think that's OK just because your tired. Your only making it harder on yourself the next time when your horse thinks lets collapse but you want a nice one in the middle of your test.

6. Don't pull back on the rein to stop. After following above your horse should be focused on your body. Pulling back causes the horses hind legs to stop working through. This will cause a transition on the forehand instead of a uphill engaged one

7. Don't forget to use sitting trot to prepare for both upwards and downward transitions.

Some Do's

1. If your horse bugger's off DO pull the reins. No amount of using body language or thinking stop will work at the moment 😬

2. Do enjoy your schooling.

3. Use the transitions to keep both your brains and bodies engaged.

4. Have fun and happy dressage !😁

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