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Precise Transitions

Riding correct transitions allows you to learn feel, control, and timing. Moving between gaits only when you ask gives you control of his feet, which is necessary in any riding discipline. Transitions are also a great opportunity to learn how to feel what your horse is doing underneath you, and will help you learn timing of the aids.

Keep Him Guessing

Don’t let the horse anticipate your cues by mixing up your transitions. If your horse is wanting to transition from a trot to a canter, do the opposite of what he thinks you are going to ask for and have him walk for a few strides. Practice both regular transitions and transitions within gaits. Asking your horse to collect or extend his stride will sharpen your aids as you must be very precise as not to push your horse too far and break gait.


Ride a medium walk, allowing your hips to follow your horse’s motion, which will be side to side, similar to your own walking rhythm. Keep your hands in a normal position and cue the horse with your seat first before progressing to using your legs or reins. To extend the walk, increase your hip motion just as if you were walking faster on foot. Next, use a gentle squeeze with your calves but not too much leg as this will push your horse into a trot instead. When the horse walks a little faster stop squeezing with your legs but continue to follow his movement with your seat. Cue your horse to slow and collect the walk by sitting back a little in your saddle and slowing your hip movement. Add slight pressure with your reins if he ignores your seat aids. Release your rein pressure when he transitions to the speed you want.


From a walk, increase your energy and seat motion to transition into a trot. You may also have to squeeze with your legs to reinforce your seat cue. Once your horse is trotting at a nice medium pace, ask him to extend his trot by increasing your energy and posting slightly faster. If necessary squeezing with your legs each time you sit. To slow and collect the trot stop posting, relax in the saddle, and slow your hip motion. Use gentle pressure on the reins if he doesn’t slow the trot down, releasing when you feel a change in pace. Your horse should slow the trot down without breaking into the walk.


Transition into a canter by sitting back, pushing your seat forward as if you were in a swing, and softly cuing your horse with your legs. Once you are in a rhythmic, medium canter ask your horse to slow down and collect the canter by sitting deeper and relaxing your body. Apply pressure with the reins until you feel a change in your horse’s speed. Extend the canter by sitting forward in the saddle and moving your hands slightly up your horse’s neck. If your horse doesn’t extend the canter kiss to him and squeeze softly with your legs until you feel a change in his gait.

These lessons are so great because they allow you to practice your feel of each gait and time your aids perfectly. Keep practicing as the only way that you can learn timing and feel of your horse is by riding.

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