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Downward Transitions Part 2

Now that you can confidently stop your horse with your seat from the walk on a loose rein, it’s time to advance to stopping from the trot and canter.

Trot

Get your horse walking around the arena making circles, serpentines, stopping, and backing up to get his attention on you. When you feel he is listening well; ask him to trot by focusing on where you want to go, think about trotting, and breathing in. Then say ‘trot’, cluck twice, prepare to squeeze with your legs (moving them closer to the horse’s sides), then squeeze with your legs. If he still isn’t responding, start bumping his sides with your feet, continue bumping if he still doesn’t want to go, then tap him increasingly harder with your whip. You want to ride this lesson on a loose rein. I prefer to ride on the buckle, but you can also hold a rein in each hand but without contact on the horse’s mouth.

Trot to Walk

Once he transitions into a trot, move in motion with his gait; letting your hips swing softly from side to side. (Read my article on connected riding for more tips on how to sit and post the trot). When you are ready ask him to walk:

  • Focus ahead.
  • Think “walk”.
  • Breathe out.
  • Sit down in your saddle/ sink your weight into your heels.
  • Stop following his trot, tighten your core muscles, slow the motion in your body.
  • Slide your hand down one rein, keeping your arm straight until he bends his neck.
  • When he bends his neck, bring your rein up even with his withers, and wait for the horse to cross his hind legs and walk.
  • When he transitions, release the rein and let the horse walk forward.

Canter to Trot

Practice your trot to walk transitions until you feel ready for canter to trot transitions. When you feel confident move your horse into a right lead canter for example from a trot. Focus on where you want to go, think about cantering. Say ‘canter’, kiss to him, then bring your left leg back and your right leg at the girth (think of it kind of like skipping), and sit back a bit. Then prepare to squeeze by moving your legs closer to the horse’s side, then add pressure with your legs. Bump with your feet if he doesn’t want to canter. Use your whip on the top of his hindquarters if needed (or you can use a helper on the ground to send you forward). Once he is cantering bring him back to a trot:

  • Focus ahead.
  • Think “Trot”.
  • Breathe out.
  • Sit down in your saddle.
  • Stop following his canter, tighten your core muscles, and resist the motion with your seat.
  • Slide your hand down one rein, keeping your arm straight until he bends his neck.
  • When he bends his neck, bring your rein up toward his withers, and wait for the horse to bend through his body and trot.
  • Let him trot forward on a loose rein before repeating the lesson.

Keep practicing these lessons until soon you can drop your reins and ride using only seat and leg cues.



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