I was reading an article last week all about transitions. It had the usual pointers of having enough leg during downwards transitions, keeping the quality of the gaits, etc, but one explanation really caught my eye.
Do you find that your canter transitions can be hit or miss?
If so, then read on!
The outside hind leg is the first leg to initiate the canter transition, so by timing your aids to correspond with that hind leg coming through you make it easier for your horse to pick up canter, and they will do it more smoothly and more balanced, and without losing the quality of your trot.
To begin, identify when the inside hind is coming under whilst you’re trotting. With a client last week we said “one” each time it came through. Then, take sitting trot in preparation for the canter transition, still focusing on the inside hind leg. Now this takes coordination – as the inside hind leg comes under, ask for canter. This means that the outside hind is the first to move so will pick up canter instantly.
We practiced these canter transitions last week with a little mare who can be sticky into canter but at the same time can float into it! By focusing her rider on her timing they managed to become very consistent but also the canter was forwards immediately and three-time, another thing the mare sometimes fails to do.
I had a think about the timing of transitions while I schooled a horse later in the week, but I found that I already have the timing for the transition sussed, and counting over complicated things for me and I ended up missing my cue. So basically this explanation of timing for canter transitions is excellent if people tend to sit and kick, but if your transitions are fairly consistent anyway you probably shouldn’t over complicate matters and let your instincts take over as they are much faster than having to go through the brain!