Ef­fec­tive Tran­si­tions

Horse & Rider - - Private Lesson -

Use a bit your horse re­sponds to, and con­sider us­ing spurs if your horse is lazy. Use two hands on the reins for the best con­trol and clear­est cues from your hands, then ad­vance to one-handed rid­ing once you and your horse are di­aled in to the tran­si­tion cues.

Warm up your horse so he’s ready to lis­ten for ran­dom, on­go­ing cues for speed changes. Be ready to put in ef­fort for this ses­sion— your re­peated up­ward and down­ward tran­si­tions will re­quire your body to work hard in the sad­dle.


Be­gin at a jog. Pay at­ten­tion to your horse’s cadence so he’s bal­anced in his gait. Keep con­tact with the bit, and drive him for­ward with your seat to main­tain a con­sis­tent stride and pace. Look for­ward, and keep your torso square. The more cor­rect your rid­ing po­si­tion, the more ef­fec­tive you'll be.


Ask your horse to ex­tend his jog. Ex­ten­sion means a longer stride, not faster feet. Tap with both heels for an even “go for­ward” cue, put your hands for­ward to en­cour­age his ex­ten­sion, and cluck or kiss. Ideally, your up­ward tran­si­tion should take two or three strides. If it takes longer, be more as­sertive with your cues. Also check that you’re not in­hibit­ing his for­ward mo­tion by keep­ing your reins too tight. If your horse breaks into a lope, you’re us­ing too much cue and need to back off a lit­tle.


Tran­si­tion back down to a jog with­out walk­ing. If you’ve been post­ing the ex­tended trot, cease that mo­tion. Sit deeply on your pock­ets—not back be­hind your horse’s mo­tion—to shorten his stride back down to a jog. If your horse is fa­mil­iar with a voice cue to rate back, use it; but keep your legs on him to main­tain a two-beat gait. Once you achieve the tran­si­tion, you can let up a lit­tle with the leg pres­sure to the same level you had in Photo 1. These cues re­quire you to know your horse and the level of cue­ing he re­quires. It’ll take trial and er­ror to mas­ter the cor­rect mix of pres­sure.


Pick up a nice and easy lope. Again, be sure it’s a true gait with three beats and even cadence. Keep soft con­tact with your horse’s mouth, and drive him from be­hind for

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