The Ultimate Guide to Canter to Trot Transitions

Riding good canter to trot transitions is a joy and a skill.   In my experience the upwards transitions are the joy and the downwards transitions are the where the real skill lies!

I want to, nay need to, share with you my ‘eureka moment’ I had only this week whilst working on improving the quality of our canter to trot transitions.  Those confounded downward transitions can be tricky, can’t they?Trot Transitions

I do not wish to patronise you guys, so, I guess you know that the energy should come from behind and that preparation is key.  Is there really any point in me saying you should practice! I really hope not.  But I have billed this post as the ultimate guide, so I feel a gentle reminder is in order.

Essential requirements prior to the transition are:

I have written before about how my gargantuan efforts hindered my progress and how stripping your aids back to what is essential for the desired result achieves greatness.  So when you go for the transition to trot, do as little as you possibly can.

Go for the Trot Transitions

When my Eureka moment occurred, I simply took a deep breath, which has the effect of a half halt because by doing so the seat deepens, the upper body and rib cage lifts which in turn applies a sufficiently resisting hand (that is not pulling but not following) and with the words ‘hold, hold, hold’ booming in my ear from the side lines I did just that.  Held my position.

Wow, the energy created from the canter and half halt flowed through the transition into the trot, which was utterly seamless.  No loss of balance, no dropping onto the forehand, no clunky change of pace, I could barely tell if I was cantering or trotting.

If your horse continues to canter initially, that’s ok better that he is forward than losing energy.  Just hold everything and your horse will make the transition eventually.  Once the transition is achieved reward your horse verbally.  Try to resist patting as you will interfere with the contact during this very important training phase.

I have been guilty of collapsing my torso through the downward transition in the past, I have been guilty of putting on too much pressure with the leg in an effort to keep the energy; I have been guilty of resisting too much with the reins also.  Not anymore!

One fantastic transition does not a dressage rider make, so I did a couple just to check that it wasn’t a fluke and yeah, it works.

Take a deep breath and hold.  Pretty mind blowing.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

Pure Gaits

4 Responses

  1. If your rib cage is lifting I assume your speaking of the inhaling part of the deep breath and not the second part, exhaling. If that is the case, then when you take that deep inhale breath and hold hold hold, do you mean your are holding your breath momentarily while going into the down transition?

    1. Hi Cheryl
      Actually no breath holding at all. The act of taking in the breath lifts the rib cage and it is this POSITION that should be held, even with the exhale of the breath. Does that make sense? Px

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