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Abrupt trot/walk transition

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  • Abrupt trot/walk transition

    When coming down from the trot to the walk, I am getting consistantly abrupt transitions.

    Any suggestions for exercises to improve this transition?
    \"Let the civilized world go to the devil! Long live nature, forests, and ancient poetry.\" --Theodore Rousseau

  • #2
    How exactly are you asking for this transition? What makes this transition different from your walk to trot transition?


    • #3
      Your horse may be on the forehand or behind the leg. Or both. How are your walk to trot transitions? Simply making those upward transitions instant and energetic may be enough to really help the downward transitions by lifting the forehand and getting the horse out in front of the leg.


      • #4
        One thing I was told to think of when doing ANY downward transitions is prepare, then think/ask for one or two more steps of the trot or canter before going to the downward gait. It helps you keep the upward tendency.


        • #5
          Most of the abrupt trot-walk transitions I see (especially among training level/First level horses) are due to the fact that the horse is not working appropriately through his back.

          You need to know what it feels like to have the horse lifting his back at the trot. If you don't, that's the (only) place to start.

          But frequently what happens is, when the rider asks for the walk, the horse 1) flattens its back, and then 2) screeches to a halt. But it happens very fast.

          The trick is to keep the back up so that the horse steps UNDER (and eventually lifts the front end) in the downward transition.

          If you have a nice trot over the back, make sure YOU are not causing the flattening of the horse's back by CLOSING YOUR THIGH. It drives me nuts, because people are often told to "close the thigh" for the downward transition... and that really isn't accurate. If you "close" your thigh, you push the meat into the horse's back, and he, of course, drops his back to get away from YOU!

          The downward transition should be done off the seat, and yes, you need to engage your thigh muscles... but only to momentarily still/stabilize your seat. Not to push into the horse.

          So first, practice keeping the horse THROUGH THROUGH THROUGH in the transition (even if it is not prompt). But he must keep his back up into the walk. Then you can work on the promptness again.

          I hope that helps.


          • #6
            You horse has been talking to my horse.

            If I even think about a downward transition to the walk, my horse (who has been waiting for this cue the whole time) psychically knows and will flump down hard with an attitude of, "About time. I thought you'd never get over that cantering thing." If I think about preparing to ask for more athleticism, more canter, more impulsion, more rounding, and then sit deep and ask for the walk with my seat and core instead of the reins (I think that's what I'm doing. It's what I'm trying to do. I don't know if that's really what I am succeeding in doing), then we have a nicer transition down -- she is listening to me and keeps her hind end under her and keeps it together all the way down to the walk, for lack of a better description.


            • #7
              You need to ride into the downward transition and beyond it, too. Keep your legs on. Don't stop riding. Don't think "Walk," think "March!" The horse should feel like he's melting into the walk, and the only way to get that is to keep riding.
              Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


              • #8
                I like to ride forward *into* my down transitions, not close off forward energy just have it take a new form.
                Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                • #9
                  Rileyt when did you see me ride....LOL! I DO THIS AND WHEN I DO THE BRAKES SCREECH TO A WALK!
                  If you have a nice trot over the back, make sure YOU are not causing the flattening of the horse's back by CLOSING YOUR THIGH. It drives me nuts, because people are often told to "close the thigh" for the downward transition... and that really isn't accurate. If you "close" your thigh, you push the meat into the horse's back, and he, of course, drops his back to get away from YOU!
                  Pamela Ellis


                  • #10
                    A couple of thoughts since the OP has not returned. It is very important that the horse is PREPARED (in other gaits as well), not ambushed, by the aids. So, ALWAYS there must be alert half halt/alert hh/THEN the transition. The horse learns then to rebalance/think/slide into the next gait. It should ALWAYS be three, but when learning it might take a couple of rides for the horse to pick up on the concept. The concept that goes with this is how a hh works. Ideally it is merely a hint of (repeatedly) posterior tilting of the pelvis ('stacking the spine') in coordination with the footfalls of the gait. By doing this the horse 'meets' the hand, rebalances. By repeating the alert/alert/transition the horse learns to changes itself without any other signal. (This can be shown by doing this on a lunge where only the seat and leg are available.) By sitting taller the horse should start to change its own balance, no need for thigh/more leg/etc.

                    Second is the balance of the horse. If it is on the forehand or too low/closed in its posture then likely it will 'lock the forelegs' and come to a screeching transition. Part of this is also asking if the horse is ridden 'in position' and more available for diagonal hh.

                    Third, IF the rider is out of balance (learning forward or back) or pinching/tightening the legs or holding the reins stiffly/dropping and fixing the hand too lowered for a transition the horse will brace against it and lose its balance.

                    And yes the rider has to continue to ride before/during/after a transition.
                    I.D.E.A. yoda


                    • #11
                      In addition to all of the above very well thought out responses, I throw my 2 cents in. Absolutely give a half halt and ride "up" to the down transition. I have helped a few peolple over the years and one of the biggest things I work with in T/1st riders is the down transition. A technique I have them practice is instead of bringing back or pulling or even clenching the hands, I ask them to keep their hands still and "touch their shoulder blades together" while tightening the stomach muscles.

                      This gives the signal to the horse in a refined manner that does not un balance them or cause them to pull back against a strong rein thus preventing the fall onto the forehand.

                      Works for everyone and allows the horse to then continue with energy and balance into the next gait.
                      bad decisions make good stories


                      • #12
                        Practice almost walking from the trot then return to working trot. It is a great exercise to teach riders the concept of half halt and to engage the trot.


                        • #13
                          I haven't been having the screeching to a halt trick but definitely having trouble bringing my horse back in transitions i.e. canter to trot is my worst. So my instructor (while walking horse down) had me stop her with my reins long. I had trouble. So she had asked what aids I was using and then got me to start teaching horse to halt using my calf aids and stopping moving and no reins - if she didn't stop, I was to just pick up one rein, continue calf pressure, sit still and take the rein to my belly button. Gradually we made progress. Then we tried a trot walk trans and it was much better. I had been using the seat thigh pressure to halt thereby flattening her out. We will progress from there.
                          Last edited by Kit; Feb. 2, 2011, 06:42 PM.


                          • #14
                            Stop thinking of it as a downward transition but as a forward transition, into a different gait. The operative thought is -"forward".
                            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.


                            • #15
                              Thank you - I'll try that too


                              • #16
                                To learn the feeling of riding forward into the walk try doing the transition while in a shallow shoulder-in (or shoulder-fore) position. Working in a shoulder-fore position helps the rider keep the horse between leg and hand, and maintaining that position through the transition helps the rider keep the horse between leg and hand through the transition.


                                • #17
                                  When this happens to me, its because I didn't prepare for the transition. When I do prepare, I sit back, half halt up and ask for the transition. Always works for me.


                                  • #18
                                    Perhaps I'm asking at the wrong time... My horse tends to fall into trot, a big running trot and gets away on me.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by flyracing View Post
                                      Practice almost walking from the trot then return to working trot. It is a great exercise to teach riders the concept of half halt and to engage the trot.

                                      Absolutely correct. This, when done correctly, forms the basis of the half halt. That is too say, that if your thought is to return to trot then the "half transition" to walk is ridden forward. The idea is that the horse absorbds the transition and engages, even in the downward phase of the exercise, so that he is not bracing on the riders hand for balance and stopping the energy. The horse should step under in the transistion not lean on the hand and drop it's weight forward, but under. It is also important to note that there is no need to transition to walk if the horse is not carrying itself in the gait proceeding it whether that be a progressive from trot or direct from canter. The transition is only as good as the gait proceeding it.


                                      • #20
                                        Does the horse have any Western pleasure training in its background? That could account for it.
                                        2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

                                        A helmet saved my life.