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The "transition"

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  • The "transition"

    I am asking my question in this forum because traditional/classical dressage is my first love and have found it applicable to all disciplines.

    I am coming to understand that the "transition" is a period of time and physical maneuverings on the horse's part. It is way more than a simple cue or change of gait. It is, in and of itself, a separate space between one gait and another.

    Now that my horse is feeling pain free in his hocks and back, I felt the total transition for the first time yesterday. I felt HIS part...that is to say: after the cue and before the rhythmic lope. It took 3 strides from cue to the lope; 3 strides until he was solidly in the gait and I could work with tempo, momentum, rhythm, etc.

    What do you look for in the transition? I'm assuming that the transition and what it takes to make the transition varies from horse to horse, depending on physical ability, mental focus, training level and rider's riding.

    I was quite happy with our transition yesterday and I think it would be unreasonable to expect better or quicker transition from him at this point.

    At what level does a horse feel the cue, sit down and immediately canter. He's built to naturally be collected, altho at the moment he isn't strong or conditioned for an immediate lope.
    Ride like you mean it.

  • #2
    Hmm, if you ask at the right time, in the right way, on a trained horse, it should be immediately. For any horse. But as the wise man said, riding is simple, it just isn't easy.
    "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


    • #3
      From the giving of the aid, to the actual gait should be immediate, depending on the horse's strength and training level.

      So, no three strides in between. When you are trotting before C, and the requirement is canter at C, the transition is accomplished right there.

      In early test, transitions to Halt, allow one or two strides of walk. Later, it is trot, halt! And a square Halt at that!
      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.


      • #4
        IMO a horse should respond immediately to the cue. Now it may not be pretty if the horse is not strong enough to rock back and engage. Horse may fall on the forehand, throw his head etc if asking for to much but they should go to the next gait. No matter wheyou ask even. You may ask at the wrong time for a lead but the horse should pick up the canter even if it is the wrong lead when you ask. Jmo.
        Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


        • #5
          as my trainer says there are only three ways a horse can respond to any request: respond promptly, respond in a delayed fashion, or not respond at all.

          Only a prompt response is the correct answer.

          If the horse does not respond in a prompt fashion then it is most likely behind the leg.

          (one caveat - timing of the aid is a critical feature of a prompt response)

          one big thing i have learned (altho i still don't ask enough) is that most riders don't ask enough of their horses. they allow (expect?) slow and behind the leg responses - so that is what we get!


          • #6
            This is what training is. The transitions become immediate, correct, gymnastic and seamless regardless of the difficulty of the movement.
            Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"


            • Original Poster

              I'm not expecting too much at this point because we're just beginning to work after hock problems that went on for most of last summer...until I found a vet who knew what he was doing. That was in the fall. He was injected by the current vet last week; my question is based on his response during our first ride. VERY EARLY in the process.

              What I felt was an immediate response to my cue in that he got his feet organized for that first step of the lope. That was about 1 1/2 strides. Then it was another 1 1/2 strides before I felt the solid 3 beat cadence.

              So, as I work with him and he gets stronger over the coming weeks (especially at the 3 week mark when the injections have their maximum impact) it won't be unfair to ask for an immediate response.

              Next question: When you cue and get the immediate response, how long is it on an average horse before he's in the 'gear' that you want? Or do they immediately jump into the right canter cadence?

              I think we're ready for our dressage instructor to come to the farm and give a lesson. ;-)

              btw, I learn best on a need-to-know basis. I like asking questions, then going out and working until I have more questions. It's hard for me to do ANYTHING while someone is talking to me about how to do it. I'm hoping to morph that "fault" a little.
              Ride like you mean it.


              • #8
                And this comes back to the idea of "on the aids"

                Being "ready" and being ready the entire ride perfectly is the goal, but prepping is needed and eventually less because the horse is more attentive for longer periods. Hopefully a trainer can help you with prepping for now so that you and him are ready for the cue!
                ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                • Original Poster

                  He never picks up a wrong lead. When I ask at the wrong time, he will "organize" his feet quickly so he can step into the correct lead. I have accidentally asked at just the right moment and it was MAGICAL!!!

                  Originally posted by rabicon View Post
                  IMO You may ask at the wrong time for a lead but the horse should pick up the canter even if it is the wrong lead when you ask. Jmo.
                  Ride like you mean it.


                  • #10
                    I dunno.

                    You can ask for a "prompt" response to a canter-halt request all day long and twice on Sunday, but if the horse is not ready for that transition all you will be doing is hauling out its back molars all of a sudden.

                    When I am teaching a horse something and developing its strength and mental ridability for the next level of challenge, I want a prompt TRY. This does not necessarily equal prompt COMPLETION.

                    I have a couple of green horses in my program that simply are not ready for walk-canter transitions. They aren't even ready for trot-canter transitions without covering a little bit of ground getting organized. That's ok, as long as by the end of the ride maybe they took one less step on the way there.

                    Also, if you ask when the wrong foot is on the ground, the horse has two options: be immediate onto the wrong lead, or be delayed onto the correct one. Often horse gets crucified either way.
                    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                    Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                    The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                    • #11
                      Are you doing walk/lope or jog/lope transitions? I would be going from a jog until your horse has developed more strength and ability to go.

                      While a weaker horse may not have a good dressage-quality canter immediately in a transition, a horse who is only loping should be able to immediately go into the lope you want to keep. If you take three strides for the transition either your timing is off in your aid so much the horse has to figure it out entirely on its own, you aren't setting your horse up to lope so it has to figure it out entirely on its own, or your horse is behind your leg as others mentioned.

                      When I was showing WP (in the poll even with the withers days!) or western horsemanship, you always knew when the judge was going to be asking for a lope - so I would be half halting with my seat and preparing my horse's balance, so he was ready to go. We were in the lope we wanted to maintain by the time the announcer finished saying the first lope, and certainly never EVER taking as long as it would take for the announcer to say "lope, lope your horses please." You shouldn't see the riders setting the horse up because it should be off their seats, but every western rider out there you see with a prompt transition into the exact gait they want has already been telling her horse to get ready for it.
                      If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                      • Original Poster

                        We transition from both the walk and the jog. He can do either and is about equal in his response. He is very talented...it's me who is not. I'm new to riding and balance and ab strength.

                        I really appreciate all the wisdom you ladies are offering...it gives me lots to think about before my next ride. We are still in the very beginning of his conditioning and strengthening. It helps me to know what is fair to ask and what is not.

                        When I watch the video stream from the horse shows, I'm always impressed that the horse is jogging along and then is loping...no muss, no fuss. That's what my goal is...a seamless transition.
                        Ride like you mean it.


                        • #13
                          It might help you to think of always evaluating the gait you are in asking yourself both "Could I go to the next gait up from this gait?" and "Could I go to the next gait down?" That is, does your trot have enough energy, or would you need to add energy to get a canter? Does it have balance and rideability or would you need to organize to do a down transition?



                          • #14
                            Learn to feel the hind feet. Want the LEFT lead? You need the LEFT hind to be just now hitting the ground and ready to load and lift the body into the canter. If the left hind is trailing you cannot possibly expect an immediate response, no matter how well trained the horse .

                            Learn to ask when he can say YES.


                            • #15
                              i just want to be clear: when i said "respond" i mean just that - the horse may or may not respond with the correct answer - but it does have to try. if it doesn't try or tries in a delayed fashion i know that my horse is behind the leg and no horse can respond promptly when it is behind the leg.

                              The correct response will change as the horse learns... for a greenie the correct response is an active forward action when asked - it may take a few strides to get to canter but it must go when asked.

                              as the horse learns it will refine the ability to answer with the correct answer in a prompt fashion.

                              i hope that helps make clear what i was getting at.
                              Last edited by mbm; May. 1, 2013, 01:40 AM.


                              • #16
                                I do both at different times. Some days I'm asking for a "right this stride" response even if it's a little ugly, and other days I'm focused on staying soft, supple and gently stepping into the transition. On soft and easy days it can take half a 20m circle to get the transition I want. I find that if I get too focused on soft and easy then I can get too fussy about getting the perfect moment and the transitions get slow and dull. The "right now" transitions days start off with some awkward or ugly transitions, but they improve during the ride as the horse becomes quicker to respond with less reactiveness and I can use lighter aids. It really depends on what the horse is giving me that day.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by katarine View Post
                                  Learn to feel the hind feet. Want the LEFT lead? You need the LEFT hind to be just now hitting the ground and ready to load and lift the body into the canter. If the left hind is trailing you cannot possibly expect an immediate response, no matter how well trained the horse .

                                  Learn to ask when he can say YES.

                                  OP, it sounds like what you need right now is a really fine instructor who can teach you to feel what the hind legs are doing and time your aid. Not all instructors are good at giving us this body awareness. But I hope you can find one who does. I think you'll have plenty of "magic" transitions after that.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by netg View Post
                                    You shouldn't see the riders setting the horse up because it should be off their seats, but every western rider out there you see with a prompt transition into the exact gait they want has already been telling her horse to get ready for it.
                                    Doesn't that apply also to dressage?


                                    • #19
                                      When I watch the video stream from the horse shows, I'm always impressed that the horse is jogging along and then is loping...no muss, no fuss. That's what my goal is...a seamless transition.--Quote

                                      This where a good instructor can guide you through the body control you need to get those seamless, "no see" transitions directly to the desired gait you want.
                                      It's a little to do with the horse, and his training, and a lot to do with the rider.
                                      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.


                                      • #20
                                        I think your question is really
                                        "How much time from half halt prep to cue? And then how much time from cue to new gait?"
                                        It depends. Most training level horses need about 2-3 strides for the half halt to take full effect, and then an instant response to the cue. If the half halt was correctly carried through, the transition will be instant and balanced into a balanced new gait.
                                        If the new gait does not feel balanced, there was insufficient half halt work prior to the cue.
                                        This is why transitions are so good mentally for the horse. You're programming in the practical purpose behind the HH.
                                        chaque pas est fait ensemble