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Advice for downward, canter-trot transitions?

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  • Advice for downward, canter-trot transitions?

    Hi guys, thanks in advance. I'm looking for help to 'clean up' our downward transitions, specifically canter-trot. *we are jumpers but I figured the dressage forum would be the best place to post!

    She is very forward and always infront of my leg, so whenever I ask for canter to trot, the transition is really disorganized and not smooth, and her trot starts too fast and choppy, until I bring her back to me. When this transition happens, I kind of lose control of my body/eq for lack of better explanation. Legs get floppy, my upper body falls/jerks forward (lack of core muscle I'm assuming?).

    How I ask: sit deep & quiet, a little leg to let her know I don't want walk, and I close my fingers and pull back softly.

    Any advice is appreciated! Thank you!

  • #2
    It sounds like your horse is on the forehand, which is causing the disorganized feeling in the downward transition. Can you change "gears" within the canter? When you jump, does your horse feel disorganized in the strides after landing?

    Since you jump, my advice would be to try to get the same feeling of collection that you get when preparing to take off for a jump. This will get the horse more on the hind legs, then you can ask for the trot transition in better balance. You might try adding a 10-15 meter canter circle, and then ask for the down transition as you come out of it, back onto a 20 meter circle. Once your horse is more adjustable in the canter, you can ask the hind legs to come under for a couple strides, and then ride "up" into the trot, rather than thinking of it as a down transition.

    Comment


    • #3
      When asking for canter trot transitions, first your body is in canter rhythm, then you take a deep breath, stop cantering with your body, and hold with your body until you get a suitable trot. Do not stop riding the sitting trot once she breaks from canter. That is when things will fall apart.

      It takes a really strong well held canter -walk transition to go to walk, so just keep your body in trot, don't allow it to hold until walk. But do ride it all the way down to that trot.
      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

      Comment


      • #4
        Do you think the problem is the horse or you? In other words, can your trainer get a nice transition from canter to trot? If it's you, then there are lots of exercises you can work on relating to your core strength and ability to really "hold" yourself as you compress down to the trot (or, as I prefer to think of it, compress "up" into the trot). Everything from no-stirrups work to out-of-saddle gym-type work will help.

        But I have a horse who does this because she's young and green and absolutely certain that I don't truly want her to come back to a collected trot EVER from the canter. Sigh. It's partly a strength thing (for her) and partly a mental thing (for her), and she's gotten a lot better about it in the last 6 months, but is still a work in progress. Part of it is working on her brain ("YES, when I ask you to do something I *really do* want it to happen right now"), but I also do a lot of work to get her strong enough to really carry herself. Things like trot poles and cavaletti, lateral work, and many transitions within and between gaits.

        One that I really like is to do several canter/halt transitions (canter -> halt -> back up a few steps and then right back to the canter). I always do a few of these before I start asking for my canter -> trot transitions. It helps get her in the frame of mind to shift her balance back and be prepared to collect, and makes the canter to trot come much easier when we move to that.
        __________________________________
        Flying F Sport Horses
        Horses in the NW

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        • #5
          No pulling back, leaning back, thinking “back”, or you get the “Box of Rocks” transition. Good transitions do not come as a result of compression or dragging on the canter.

          Find the “uppest” part of the canter.
          Key into that for several strides. At least three.

          find a pause at the top of that canter, get your horse to notice that pause:
          (this is a half halt, but NO PULLING!), using your core (lifting) and fingers closing on the UP only, and releasing back to neutral again.

          ***the trot will occur on the upbeat, not the downbeat of the canter****

          NO one can ride the trot that comes after a crappy canter to trot transition. The horse’s back is tight and horrible feeling. Good riders create a transition that’s easy to ride because they make a transition with the back up like a soft trampoline.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by outerbanks77 View Post
            It sounds like your horse is on the forehand, which is causing the disorganized feeling in the downward transition. Can you change "gears" within the canter? When you jump, does your horse feel disorganized in the strides after landing?

            Since you jump, my advice would be to try to get the same feeling of collection that you get when preparing to take off for a jump. This will get the horse more on the hind legs, then you can ask for the trot transition in better balance. You might try adding a 10-15 meter canter circle, and then ask for the down transition as you come out of it, back onto a 20 meter circle. Once your horse is more adjustable in the canter, you can ask the hind legs to come under for a couple strides, and then ride "up" into the trot, rather than thinking of it as a down transition.
            She used to be very very heavy on the forehand, my trainer worked specifically on this with her and she's made a huge improvement. However since you said that I'm sure that's still part of the problem. Your advice of getting the same collection before a fence is helpful! What are your cues to ask for the hind legs to come up underneath her? Thank you!

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
              When asking for canter trot transitions, first your body is in canter rhythm, then you take a deep breath, stop cantering with your body, and hold with your body until you get a suitable trot. Do not stop riding the sitting trot once she breaks from canter. That is when things will fall apart.

              It takes a really strong well held canter -walk transition to go to walk, so just keep your body in trot, don't allow it to hold until walk. But do ride it all the way down to that trot.
              Thank you! Great explanation of how to hold my position.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by PNWjumper View Post
                Do you think the problem is the horse or you? In other words, can your trainer get a nice transition from canter to trot? If it's you, then there are lots of exercises you can work on relating to your core strength and ability to really "hold" yourself as you compress down to the trot (or, as I prefer to think of it, compress "up" into the trot). Everything from no-stirrups work to out-of-saddle gym-type work will help.

                But I have a horse who does this because she's young and green and absolutely certain that I don't truly want her to come back to a collected trot EVER from the canter. Sigh. It's partly a strength thing (for her) and partly a mental thing (for her), and she's gotten a lot better about it in the last 6 months, but is still a work in progress. Part of it is working on her brain ("YES, when I ask you to do something I *really do* want it to happen right now"), but I also do a lot of work to get her strong enough to really carry herself. Things like trot poles and cavaletti, lateral work, and many transitions within and between gaits.

                One that I really like is to do several canter/halt transitions (canter -> halt -> back up a few steps and then right back to the canter). I always do a few of these before I start asking for my canter -> trot transitions. It helps get her in the frame of mind to shift her balance back and be prepared to collect, and makes the canter to trot come much easier when we move to that.
                Honestly probably me! She is a finished 13y/o with show experience. I've only been riding "properly" under professional coaching for about 3 years, so I need more coaching than my mare haha. I will try the canter-halt transitions!

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Arlomine View Post
                  No pulling back, leaning back, thinking “back”, or you get the “Box of Rocks” transition. Good transitions do not come as a result of compression or dragging on the canter.

                  Find the “uppest” part of the canter.
                  Key into that for several strides. At least three.

                  find a pause at the top of that canter, get your horse to notice that pause:
                  (this is a half halt, but NO PULLING!), using your core (lifting) and fingers closing on the UP only, and releasing back to neutral again.

                  ***the trot will occur on the upbeat, not the downbeat of the canter****

                  NO one can ride the trot that comes after a crappy canter to trot transition. The horse’s back is tight and horrible feeling. Good riders create a transition that’s easy to ride because they make a transition with the back up like a soft trampoline.
                  Super helpful, thanks! I think I always think "back"...I'll work on this and see what happens. The technicalities of the stride are difficult for me. Thanks for your input!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ChloeSimpy View Post

                    Honestly probably me! She is a finished 13y/o with show experience. I've only been riding "properly" under professional coaching for about 3 years, so I need more coaching than my mare haha. I will try the canter-halt transitions!
                    Prepare to dig deep into your core for those canter walk transitions. More core than you think you have.

                    BTW I tell my students to grab with their core. But not their hands.

                    Where is the devil emoticon?
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      As said above downward transitions are not done with the reins. Are you talking about canter trot transitions in jumping position or in the saddle?

                      In the saddle think about stopping your back from moving.

                      Also think that you are going forward to trot, or forward to walk or forward to halt. You are not going back.
                      It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        When you shift from canter position to trot position (legs across from each other, pelvis perpendicular to horse's spine) think about putting some weight into your outside foot. ( In canter we are slightly weighted to the inside; in trot we are more even side to side.... ).
                        ALso, if your horse takes a while to catch on to the "no reins" downward transitions try using a leg yield out until he trots, or alternately a really steep shoulder in until he trots. Of course work to have a straight transition after he figures out you arent pulling the reins and you are asking for a transition.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ChloeSimpy View Post
                          What are your cues to ask for the hind legs to come up underneath her? Thank you!
                          It's not cues exactly, but more a way of riding the canter. Sort of like bouncing a ball along, so that the bounces become more up and down, rather than bounding forward. In terms of actual body changes, I think I tuck my tailbone, bring my legs back so they brush the horse's barrel just a bit during the suspension moment of the canter, and a very light HH (more just a little less give forward, to match the idea of bouncing upwards). It is something you'll probably have to play with on your own for a bit to see what works for you and your horse, but it's worthwhile because it can help you to feel the hind legs and learn to ride them, which is needed to really progress in dressage.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Along with the previous suggestions, be sure you are bringing your outside leg from canter position (slightly back) to trot position when you ask with your core. This really helped us with our canter- trot transitions keeping them balanced and forward from the hind end, rather than falling on the forehand in the transition.
                            "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I am surprised no one has mentioned breathing yet. I am going to guess that when you prepare to go from a canter to a trot you hold your breath, and keep it in until you get the smooth trot you have to chase down? What will really help the smoothness of the transition and the quality of the trot is if you breathe out during the downward transition aid. Just breathe out. it helps your horse breathe as well, and you'll find the trot after the transition is much more under control.
                              "Wherever you go, go with all your heart"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by lorilu View Post
                                When you shift from canter position to trot position (legs across from each other, pelvis perpendicular to horse's spine) think about putting some weight into your outside foot. ( In canter we are slightly weighted to the inside; in trot we are more even side to side.... ).
                                Yes. Another way of saying this is to weight your outside sit bone to transition from canter to trot (this will make your sitbones even so they feel "trot-shaped" to your horse).

                                Be aware that you also have to "quicken" the movement in your pelvis when you transition to trot from canter. You can exaggerate this to help you find the speed you need. If you don't quicken the pelvis, you will be behind the movement on the first trot step---and will have less influence over the trot.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Canter to trot is not a down transition. It is an change to different gait. From a good canter the transition to trot shoul feel that new gait is bigger an more forward that you rebalance over a few strides. Over time both gaits will improve.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Two things I do are think of the 1-2 rhythm of trot before you physically ask for the trot, and I consistently close the back of my inside thigh as I engage my core and breathe out. I use both legs back of thigh thinking "up'" and core and think 1-2-3-4 to go canter walk. Finding a consistent aiding system within your own body is so much of this. Horses do "hear" your thoughts because you inevitably organize your body to match your thought process. I've had alot of time to think about this because my current eventing partner is doing preliminary tests at events and fourth level work at the dressage shows so I have to be precise or he will canter walk all day.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Another way to help - do a step or two of shoulder in at the canter as you ask for the down transition. That does a few things - first of all, it helps collect and left your horse's front end. And for most people, they are more inclined to engage their core in lateral work - so it is a sneaky way to remind you - engage your core, legs ON. Then (as already mentioned) try to do it in the up phase of the canter. The shoulder-in position will also help you feel that more.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I'm working on training my young horse to build more collection muscles in canter (and catch her canter up to the strength she has in the trot). What we've been doing that helps is to focus on thinking a little bit shoulder-fore cantering down the long side (not shoulder-in since she's not strong enough - just moving the shoulder slightly with outside rein and not asking for a lot of bend). This helps get her straight, which helps me rock her back into more collection. I use this feeling on a big circle (really getting a straight, good connection with the shoulder/outside rein) and think of pulsing back onto her haunches a bit, supporting with leg, getting that collection, uphill, jumpy-feel - it's a trick to do it enough to feel organized/collection-y, without asking too much that she loses strength and breaks. Once I have an organized "pulse onto haunches feeling" for a few strides, I support with the legs and just "relax" into the trot (when I ask her to rock back, it takes a lot of muscle so she naturally wants to break stride into trot anyway, instead of having to carry that harder, "sit-down, jump up" canter) - it's like I'm "letting" her trot when she's organized to do it smoothly as possible, instead of asking her to trot.

                                        I realize the feeling is different with a horse that seems to rush off the leg, but like others have said above, trying to work on rocking the horse back into more of a shortened, powerful collected stride will help you channel that power into an organized trot.
                                        Mr. Sandman
                                        sand me a man
                                        make him so sandy
                                        the sandiest man

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