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View Full Version : Why walk to canter in the hacks?



JustABay
May. 5, 2010, 05:09 PM
Some of you may remember my post about my unshowable horse having a neural meltdown at our in house schooling show...After LOTS of hard work from myself and my friend who is putting some O/F miles on my guy, we think it may be time to take him out to a show... although I may disagree with this on show day!:lol: My friend is a retired eventer, and she has been trying to 'hunterize' herself in preparation for the show as she will be doing the O/F, and maybe the hacks depending on how my guy's brain is that day.

We are planning to take him in and only enter him in one or two classes, depending on how he is doing, or if it's not in the cards, either ask to school him during the hacks, without being judged, or just hack around for the day. My biggest concern is the walk to canter transition. Why the walk to canter transition?! Why not from the trot???!!! *cries* My eventer friend also questions the walk to canter, and I couldn't answer as to why they do it that way

My guy did some jumper shows in a past life, and walk to canter transitions for some reason really hot him up. I am worried that will be the proverbial straw for us that causes the meltdown in the ring. I have tried schooling them at home, but they have the same result, even using different methods and with different riders. When I ask for the walk to canter, he scoots forward and rushes, and it ususally takes a few strides to get him to soften and settle. Trot to canter he is lovely and soft. I have tried asking softly, sitting deeply and ightly squeezing him and have also ditched my spurs *gasp!* for the first time since I've owned this guy, but he just won't step quietly into the canter. Any ideas??

vxf111
May. 5, 2010, 05:17 PM
Some of you may remember my post about my unshowable horse having a neural meltdown at our in house schooling show...After LOTS of hard work from myself and my friend who is putting some O/F miles on my guy, we think it may be time to take him out to a show... although I may disagree with this on show day!:lol: My friend is a retired eventer, and she has been trying to 'hunterize' herself in preparation for the show as she will be doing the O/F, and maybe the hacks depending on how my guy's brain is that day.

We are planning to take him in and only enter him in one or two classes, depending on how he is doing, or if it's not in the cards, either ask to school him during the hacks, without being judged, or just hack around for the day. My biggest concern is the walk to canter transition. Why the walk to canter transition?! Why not from the trot???!!! *cries* My eventer friend also questions the walk to canter, and I couldn't answer as to why they do it that way

My guy did some jumper shows in a past life, and walk to canter transitions for some reason really hot him up. I am worried that will be the proverbial straw for us that causes the meltdown in the ring. I have tried schooling them at home, but they have the same result, even using different methods and with different riders. When I ask for the walk to canter, he scoots forward and rushes, and it ususally takes a few strides to get him to soften and settle. Trot to canter he is lovely and soft. I have tried asking softly, sitting deeply and ightly squeezing him and have also ditched my spurs *gasp!* for the first time since I've owned this guy, but he just won't step quietly into the canter. Any ideas??

A hunter is supposed to be quiet and obedient. Going from the walk to the canter shows the horses is responsive, listening, obedient, and quiet. Going from walk to canter does the same. You wouldn't want to hunt all day long on a jigging wreck that would only trot or canter, wouldn't walk or stop at the checks. So that's not ideal for the hunter show ring either.

I find, on a nervous canterer, DON'T force yourself to IMMEDIATELY canter when called for. It's not a command class or Simon Says. Take 30 seconds and organize and ask when the horse is collected and stepping under himself so he CAN easily pick up the canter. If you have a lead issue, set yourself up to be on a circle or in the corner when you ask. It's not a race, dragging along for 5 minutes before cantering is no good, but taking 20-30 seconds to organize is okay and just might help. Also don't let him dog along at the walk. Keep him on light contact and listening so he's organized and ready for the canter.

loshad
May. 5, 2010, 05:29 PM
One thing I have found to be useful with rushy horses is transitions. Lots and lots and lots of transitions. Up, down, within gait. The more you do, the better. He'll learn that nothing exciting is going to happen and will calm himself down.

indygirl2560
May. 5, 2010, 05:32 PM
A hunter is supposed to be quiet and obedient. Going from the walk to the canter shows the horses is responsive, listening, obedient, and quiet. Going from walk to canter does the same. You wouldn't want to hunt all day long on a jigging wreck that would only trot or canter, wouldn't walk or stop at the checks. So that's not ideal for the hunter show ring either.

I find, on a nervous canterer, DON'T force yourself to IMMEDIATELY canter when called for. It's not a command class or Simon Says. Take 30 seconds and organize and ask when the horse is collected and stepping under himself so he CAN easily pick up the canter. If you have a lead issue, set yourself up to be on a circle or in the corner when you ask. It's not a race, dragging along for 5 minutes before cantering is no good, but taking 20-30 seconds to organize is okay and just might help. Also don't let him dog along at the walk. Keep him on light contact and listening so he's organized and ready for the canter.
this

Make sure you have a nice step at the walk before asking for the canter. My trainer has been having me work on those kinds of transitions lately. I've discovered that if my horse doesn't have enough step and is being sloppy, asking for a canter just makes everything fall apart or at least have an ugly transition!

RugBug
May. 5, 2010, 05:35 PM
My eventer friend also questions the walk to canter, and I couldn't answer as to why they do it that way


Eventers often work off the dressage scale and thus the walk/canter transition is considered a lot more advanced and not done for quite some time. I never knew a walk/canter transition (or even halt/canter) was suppose to be hard until I started riding as an adult at a non h/j barn. It's just like lead changes not being taught until much later. Different philosophies.

You need to make sure that you aren't uptight about the transition. Get him moving under you, from his butt...balanced and forward. Then ask. Make sure you don't unintentionally grab at him if he squirts forward a bit at first.

Just don't make them out to be something harder than they are. No one expects a perfect dressage walk-canter transition, just a soft step up to the canter.

BTW - lots and lots of transitions only serve to work some horses up. We have one beginner school horse that will get all sorts of upset if you make him do a lot of transitions. One of my horses will get a little upset as well. The other benefits from them...more transitions just make him sharper and better. Do what works for your horse

kookicat
May. 5, 2010, 05:46 PM
It helps hide the lame ones :winkgrin:

fourmares
May. 5, 2010, 06:02 PM
It's a schooliung show. You are there to school and give your horse a good experience so that in the future he can go to shows and be competitive. If he can't give you a walk canter transition without a meltdown then don't do one. If it is asked for, pick up trot for several strides and then go to canter. Sure this will probably mean that you don't win the class, but that's not the point of this show. You can work out the walk canter transition later.

fordtraktor
May. 5, 2010, 06:04 PM
Just trot a few steps into it if it makes your horse feel better. It's not going to make him place any worse than turning into a neurotic monster will, if you think it will rile him up.

CBoylen
May. 5, 2010, 06:04 PM
No one is going to shoot you for a few trot steps. Sure, a clean transition is nicer, but it's not the main focus of the judging. Besides, if you plan carefully you can keep the transition somewhat hidden from plain view of the judge.

sansibar
May. 5, 2010, 06:09 PM
No one is going to shoot you for a few trot steps. Sure, a clean transition is nicer, but it's not the main focus of the judging. Besides, if you plan carefully you can keep the transition somewhat hidden from plain view of the judge.

Exactly! I have watched a lot of hack classes and you do see horses do a few steps of trot in there and still sometimes pinning if they hide it from the judges.

And as everyone said it is a schooling show it is about having a good experience, and not fighting for the transitions.

Sebastian
May. 5, 2010, 06:42 PM
It's a schooliung show. You are there to school and give your horse a good experience so that in the future he can go to shows and be competitive. If he can't give you a walk canter transition without a meltdown then don't do one. If it is asked for, pick up trot for several strides and then go to canter. Sure this will probably mean that you don't win the class, but that's not the point of this show. You can work out the walk canter transition later.

Ditto this! The point of a schooling show is to train your horse. Let him have a good experience, even if you have to give up a ribbon. It pays off in the long run. :yes:

Good Luck!!!
Seb :)

vbunny
May. 5, 2010, 06:52 PM
Have you had a vet look at him? Some horses get hot when they hurt a little doing something. For example, a sore back or hocks might get triggered with a walk to canter transition.

Midge
May. 5, 2010, 07:46 PM
It helps hide the lame ones :winkgrin:

Uh...yeah...right...because they are never asked to trot in the hack. :rolleyes:

equidae
May. 5, 2010, 08:02 PM
I think the upward from walk to canter is much smoother, for me. ;) I personally don't love trot to canter, but that's probably my problem where I get discombobulated if I don't get the canter from the trot right away. I insist that all my horses have very nice upwards from the walk!

**Not to hijack, but I've always been taught to sit two beats to switch to the inside diagonal before asking for the canter for the trot. I've always done it, and it always feels right, and when the horses feel you switch your post the seem to set themselves up for the canter like they know what it means. Why is this? I can't really figure out the mechanics behind it.

IrishWillow
May. 5, 2010, 08:15 PM
I would say, since it sounds like this show is more about having a calm, positive experience for the horse and less about the ribbon.. screw it. Trot a few steps and pick up your canter. No harm done.

Tiffani B
May. 5, 2010, 08:39 PM
In Saddle Seat we canter from the walk or even the halt. Teaching it to a nervous horse takes time so don't rush it (I agree with everyone who is saying to canter from a few trot strides at the show, until your horse is comfortable with it).

I usually use a lot of half halts in the training process. It helps to bring the hind end under the horse and get them paying attention.

Zanny
May. 5, 2010, 09:47 PM
I think the upward from walk to canter is much smoother, for me. ;) I personally don't love trot to canter, but that's probably my problem where I get discombobulated if I don't get the canter from the trot right away. I insist that all my horses have very nice upwards from the walk!

**Not to hijack, but I've always been taught to sit two beats to switch to the inside diagonal before asking for the canter for the trot. I've always done it, and it always feels right, and when the horses feel you switch your post the seem to set themselves up for the canter like they know what it means. Why is this? I can't really figure out the mechanics behind it.

You're not hijacking but pointing to the real issue. If you ask your horse for a canter when it is possible for them to pick up a canter, meaning their footfalls naturally allow them to canter, you get a smooth transition. Asking a horse to do something when it is impossible for them to do makes them nervous.

equidae
May. 5, 2010, 09:51 PM
You're not hijacking but pointing to the real issue. If you ask your horse for a canter when it is possible for them to pick up a canter, meaning their footfalls naturally allow them to canter, you get a smooth transition. Asking a horse to do something when it is impossible for them to do makes them nervous.

There is a larger 'window' to ask at the walk than there is at the trot, which makes it easier. But I'm not sure if that answers the question about switching diagonals and then asking from the trot..

Zanny
May. 5, 2010, 10:01 PM
There is a larger 'window' to ask at the walk than there is at the trot, which makes it easier. But I'm not sure if that answers the question about switching diagonals and then asking from the trot..

When you go from posting to sitting it works as a half-halt to give the horse a heads up something new is coming, followed by an ask to canter.

equidae
May. 5, 2010, 10:06 PM
When you go from posting to sitting it works as a half-halt to give the horse a heads up something new is coming, followed by an ask to canter.

I don't mean sitting and asking. I'm talking about switching diagonals. Not just sitting, but actually switching to the inside diagonal rather than the outside. Why does posting on the 'wrong' diagonal just before asking help.

Zanny
May. 5, 2010, 10:14 PM
I don't mean sitting and asking. I'm talking about switching diagonals. Not just sitting, but actually switching to the inside diagonal rather than the outside. Why does posting on the 'wrong' diagonal just before asking help.

when you change to the wrong diagonal you stop the outside hide leg to allow the inside hind to take the first stride of the correct lead canter

whbar158
May. 6, 2010, 12:27 AM
On hot ones I have always thought canter and they often would step into the canter without me really telling them physically.

As for the diagonal, I never noticed that, but then again I don't often as out of the trot out of habit. My horse was western before I got him, did a little wp then barrels, he had no clue he could canter out of the trot with a rider on his back (and he was 12!) walk-canter beautiful trot-canter very very ugly so I really got in the habit of just doing it out of the walk and pretty much do it on most horses (except for horses that are just learning to canter). I still do trot-canter transitions when working them but for warm up and just hacking I usually just do walk-canter (from having my horse for 9 years gave me this habit). He does know how to now (but it did take like 2 years for him to have clean ones).

I am currently taking some lessons at an event barn and I really have to think about doing it out of a trot and not just cantering off out of the walk!

Zanny
May. 6, 2010, 12:49 AM
Just for kicks, drop your stirrups on every horse you ride at a walk before you canter. Then when the inside front hits the ground, apply the aids for the canter. Repeat.

Janet
May. 6, 2010, 01:43 AM
No one is going to shoot you for a few trot steps. Sure, a clean transition is nicer, but it's not the main focus of the judging. Besides, if you plan carefully you can keep the transition somewhat hidden from plain view of the judge.

And THAT is why eventers consider walk-canter more difficult than hunters do.

First, in eventing (and straight) dressage, there is often a separate score for the JUST the transition.

Second, ANY trot steps, or getting above the bit on the transition, or being on the forehand will give you a poor score.

A walk canter transition that is "perfectly acceptable" for hunters could give you a very poor score in eventing (or straight) dressage

o0hawaiigirl0o
May. 6, 2010, 03:17 AM
I ride dressage. BUT when I was teaching my horse her simple changes, she would get very nervous and fidgety. I just practiced them, first only during lessons, then slowly incorporating them into our daily rides. We did that until they became part of our normal routine. Now she jumps into the canter from a walk willingly and calmly. All it took was time. Months for us, but each rider and horse pair will be different.

findeight
May. 6, 2010, 08:43 AM
Heard about the "wrong" diagonal theory in the Arabs...but, far as Hunters? IME it does not make any difference what diagonal but sitting a couple of beats sure helps balance them up.

I was thinking about all the flat classes I have either done or watched-and it must be over 1k at this point. Very rarely see the canter from the trot asked for in the open show Hunters or EQ. When it has been requested it was in a little more advanced group and the accepted way to produce it is to sit a couple of beats to balance then strike off.

Even in the beginner divisions, it's w-t-w-c reverse and repeat. Sometimes judges will go w-c-t-w on the reverse...a little faster for the class time and allows demonstration of that c-t down transition.

That said, also IME, breed shows? They do canter out of the trot and if you got a breed show judge or are in a breed show popular area (like QH country), you wil be asked that. I could argue it's different trot though...slower and more collected then you see at Open or USEF shows.

Whatever, ride what you got the way it goes best if it's green or you are at a schooling show. Nobody will shoot you for trotting a few steps.

JustABay
May. 6, 2010, 10:00 AM
Thanks everyone!:)

The ribbon doesn't concern me, I have boxes full of them! I want to make this the best show experience possible, not have him fall apart in the transition and blow a gasket, and possibly disrupt other riders or their horses. I hate people who come to shows with nutso horses and school them while I'm competing-I don't want to be one of them!!

As for lameness, vet was up not even a week ago, teeth done, exam done to check some soreness issue that had recently cropped up. Checked hocks (which is what I thought it could be) and back, and wound up having an accupuncture treatment done on his back. He has been 110% better since:) Yay accupuncture! Vet will be back to recheck if he gets sore again.

I don't mind for the first few shows trotting into the canter, but I don't want to do it forever. I want to fix the issue! I'm going to try the suggestions posted and see how they work:)

Janet
May. 6, 2010, 10:15 AM
I was thinking about all the flat classes I have either done or watched-and it must be over 1k at this point. Very rarely see the canter from the trot asked for in the open show Hunters or EQ. When it has been requested it was in a little more advanced group and the accepted way to produce it is to sit a couple of beats to balance then strike off.
It may be regional.

Around here (VA), in the local hunter shows (but with "real" Hunter judges), I typically see W-T-W-C-W one direction, and W-T-C-W the other.

When I was growing up in NY it was ALWAYS W-T-W-C-W. but I don't know if that was location or decade related.

findeight
May. 6, 2010, 10:32 AM
It may be regional.

Around here (VA), in the local hunter shows (but with "real" Hunter judges), I typically see W-T-W-C-W one direction, and W-T-C-W the other.

When I was growing up in NY it was ALWAYS W-T-W-C-W. but I don't know if that was location or decade related.


And that makes it even more important to WATCH A CLASS before yours. Judges tend to ask for the same things in the same order in their flat classes. In Hunters, they are not trying to surprise anybody and it's not mistake and out like the breed shows are.

I can even name some R judges who routinely ask C-T-W on the reverse as well as some that will ask for the canter from the trot.

Watch and pay attention. If you are in it to win it? Pay attention to who pinned and what they may have done. If you are schooling or just looking for mileage? At least you will know what to expect when your class rolls around.

ExJumper
May. 6, 2010, 11:37 AM
A walk canter transition that is "perfectly acceptable" for hunters could give you a very poor score in eventing (or straight) dressage

Well, of course, since you are looking for totally different things. Also, you are alone in the dressage ring and may be picking up your canter with 25 other horses in the hack. It's also a good time to help your spacing. I'll delay my transition a few extra seconds if it helps me find my place in the "pack" better. I actually prefer to canter from a walk, so if I need to waste a few second I'll just walk a few more steps.

In the eq flat classes the walk/canter transition is more important, but even there it's just the luck of the draw whether the judge is looking at you or not.


It may be regional.

Around here (VA), in the local hunter shows (but with "real" Hunter judges), I typically see W-T-W-C-W one direction, and W-T-C-W the other.

When I was growing up in NY it was ALWAYS W-T-W-C-W. but I don't know if that was location or decade related.

I don't think I've ever gone from a trot to a canter in a flat class. But as a previous poster said, some judges do like to canter before trotting, in which case it's W-C-T-W. I think they do this sometimes when they are running late!


And then of course there is the famous W-T-W-C-T-W going the second direction of the ring. Also know as, "my winner just picked up the wrong lead, and now I have to see them trot again to figure out how to pin this class!!"

loshad
May. 6, 2010, 11:46 AM
I don't think I've ever gone from a trot to a canter in a flat class. But as a previous poster said, some judges do like to canter before trotting, in which case it's W-C-T-W. I think they do this sometimes when they are running late!

And then of course there is the famous W-T-W-C-T-W going the second direction of the ring. Also know as, "my winner just picked up the wrong lead, and now I have to see them trot again to figure out how to pin this class!!"

There are a couple of judges around here who LOVE to throw that trot to canter transition in for at least one direction. It tends to narrow down classes surprisingly well.

FrenchFrytheEqHorse
May. 6, 2010, 12:38 PM
There are a few judges is my zone (3) that ask for trot-canter/canter-trot transitions during flat classes. On the contrary, I have found that it in no way "narrows down" the class. Saves time? Yes, absolutely. But you'd have to make a REALLY ugly transition to have it seriously affect the way your horse is pinned in a hunter u/s class. A little raise of the head of flick of the ear or swish of the tail is not going to knock you out of the ribbons.

In an equitation class, OTOH, it could produce different outcomes.

RugBug
May. 6, 2010, 01:27 PM
And THAT is why eventers consider walk-canter more difficult than hunters do.

First, in eventing (and straight) dressage, there is often a separate score for the JUST the transition.

Second, ANY trot steps, or getting above the bit on the transition, or being on the forehand will give you a poor score.

A walk canter transition that is "perfectly acceptable" for hunters could give you a very poor score in eventing (or straight) dressage

I understand why it's considered more difficult, but IMO, there's this huge "OMG, it's SOOOOOO hard" mystique to it that just makes it seem more elusive than it needs to be. I strive for the best possible transition I can get, I work on them, but I never had this idea that it was super difficult, so I don't get all uptight about it. A dressage person recently complimented me on both of my horses' w/c transitions, so I doubt they are all that frightening or horribly incorrect. Maybe they are, (and believe me...many times they are downright AWFUL) but something it's just another thing we do.

showhorsegallery
May. 6, 2010, 01:34 PM
I like Walk to Canter transitions. I always sit the trot for a few beats before asking for canter. Never heard of switching your diagonal to ask. It's always good to relax as other have said and don't rush. Get yourself organized and then ask. Set you and your horse up for success.

kookicat
May. 6, 2010, 07:22 PM
Uh...yeah...right...because they are never asked to trot in the hack. :rolleyes:

It was a joke, hence the :winkgrin:. :rolleyes: