Tips for snappy canter transitions...

Queenbee

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Now I know all the basics, sit back, outside leg back, don't rush the trot etc, and I tell myself all of this all the time but trot to canter has never ever been my strength, and I let Ben down, he does the transition but he flattens and then I collect him back.

Does anyone have any tips, what works for you? Just looking for some ways to improve our mo Jo with this.
 

Cowpony

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You could try leg-yielding into the corner in trot and canter from the leg-yield. It's something our instructor gets us to do and it gets the hind leg more underneath.
 

Goldenstar

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Ride him in a slight shoulder fore position .
Put your outside leg back to prepare him and then ask for the transition with your inside leg you are aiming for sharp reaction to the inside leg command the shoulder fore and the outside leg going on are the preparation .
I often work on walk to canter if I am having trouble it sharpens up their reaction .
 

Queenbee

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You could try leg-yielding into the corner in trot and canter from the leg-yield. It's something our instructor gets us to do and it gets the hind leg more underneath.


Hmmm, perfected LY out from a circle in trot and am just doing it in trot at the moment, but not yet in canter, we are not collected enough, or do you mean, go into trot and LY out and into canter as LYing out?
 

hobbit

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I'm not a great rider, but I've found through my lessons etc, that practising my walk to canter transitions, really helped with trot to canter :) he also seems to stroke off correct leg more often on his worst rein by doing walk to canter.
 

Queenbee

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Ride him in a slight shoulder fore position .
Put your outside leg back to prepare him and then ask for the transition with your inside leg you are aiming for sharp reaction to the inside leg command the shoulder fore and the outside leg going on are the preparation .
I often work on walk to canter if I am having trouble it sharpens up their reaction .

See I think I'm over complicating it.... I read a blog the other day about W to C and about essentially focussing an entire schooling session on getting them right, I followed the lesson to a t but all we got was rushing, no matter how many times I corrected and repeated.

It's the same old story, when I am on a hack and I don't over think it... Pop! Perfect transition, but when I'm in the school, I burger up, I over think it and tend to let him down :(

I don't essentially think it's his lack of reaction, it's absolutely down to me, on the one rein we get the correct leg, but it's not Poppy and we flatten for a few strides, on the other we are struggling with the correct lead so are working on achieving that consistently.... But I think essentially flattening and correct lead go hand in hand, in the sense that if I can get the 'pop' in the transition, the lead leg will be easier. I'd really love to work on walk to canter and think that would really help, but the times we have tried it's just not worked.... Now I know, physically there is little difference between walk to trot and walk to canter, but we just don't seem to have found that mo Jo either and again, because it's not a physical thing, I must put that down to me.

As a caveat, I would say that we are taking weekly lessons, something Ben and I have never done and something I've not done for probably 13 years, but I find it harder to read Ben, and assess what is best for him schooling wise... Ebony was so different to him and I think my brain needs a bit of retraining from her to him. In our lessons we are making great progress, but the transition work is something I want some ideas on.
 

hobbit

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I have a real big problem with getting horses off my leg, because my leg position isn't right (seems to slip back), and so when asking for canter, it's a real struggle to get him off my leg and responsive, unless I get him almost 'wound up', and working difect transitions really helps...start halt-walk-trot-walk-halt....then liven it up, halt-trot, trot-halt...and if he isn't responsive kick, and/or tap behind leg with stick...really get him thinking...and livened up....makes it more easy to get the canter transitions then...as he's eager to go, listening to your aids...so you can focus on YOU being right (legs, position etc)....
It's hard to explain...my instructor is fab at doing the explaining...we've also been doing the head turned to outside and ask for canter, stopping right away if on wrong leg (hard if on your own), then asking again right away....sometimes lifting inside hand up helps...it's gruelling work! but you will get there
 

Queenbee

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Hi, a lot of that really helps in the sense that it would suit Ben and myself as a combination, he was always a real slug, but has recently become a lot more forward, yet lacking in focus. With regards to what your instructor has you do for the incorrect leg, it seems along the same lines of what my instructor has me do... In essence it makes going on the wrong leg very uncomfortable and a lot more hard work, however our approach is to ask for canter and go large if it's on the right leg, if it isn't, ride a 20 m circle to reinforce it's not comfortable on the wrong leg and not what we want.

Hmm, my only query with your method would be that we ensure we establish a good trot before asking again... If I was to ask Ben again, it would be from a rushed trot (I need time to calm him back down) and this would be counterproductive???
 
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forelegs

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I used to be terrible at rushing the trot into the transition - my instructor got me to actively slow the trot right down, almost to a jog, and go sitting, getting his hind legs really underneath him and then moving the outside leg back to 'bounce' him into canter.
Once you've perfected that you can move on to doing it out of a normal working trot - but always be thinking bouncy!
 

PingPongPony

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to get them more responsive and focused in general what i've been taught to do is first start of in walk, count 8 strides, ask for trot, count 8 strides, come back to walk for 7 strides, go into trot for 7 strides, walk 6, trot 6, walk 5, trot 5, walk 4, tort 4, walk 3, trot 3, walk 2, trot 2, walk 1, trot 1, slow the trot right down so its almost barely there and then push into working trot again, and so on. I've also done it with trot to canter and walk to canter, and because they can't count, they can't anticipate when you'll ask, so they have to focus and respond quickly. It won't suit all horses but it definitely worked for a fair few that i've ridden, and it's easy enough to do when schooling on your own. You can mix it up with doing the same thing on a serpentine, figure of 8, 20m circle and mixing it all together, so he really has to focus on whats being asked of him, not just pace but also direction at the same time :) sorry if i didn't explain it well! :)
 

el_Snowflakes

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I actually got some lovely transitions practising this tonight :) I tend to rush the trot into canter so I practiced getting a slow (but powerful) collected trot then asking for canter on the corner, instead of cantering from a fast strung out trot if that makes sense :)
 

hobbit

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Hi, a lot of that really helps in the sense that it would suit Ben and myself as a combination, he was always a real slug, but has recently become a lot more forward, yet lacking in focus. With regards to what your instructor has you do for the incorrect leg, it seems along the same lines of what my instructor has me do... In essence it makes going on the wrong leg very uncomfortable and a lot more hard work, however our approach is to ask for canter and go large if it's on the right leg, if it isn't, ride a 20 m circle to reinforce it's not comfortable on the wrong leg and not what we want.

Hmm, my only query with your method would be that we ensure we establish a good trot before asking again... If I was to ask Ben again, it would be from a rushed trot (I need time to calm him back down) and this would be counterproductive???

I think the idea is that they don't have a chance to trot more than few strides, so there is no rushed trote, it's a quick bring back to trot, and straightaway ask for canter, to encourage strike off on right leg....

Weirdly (and frustratingly!!)...when jumping, my horse will go on correct lead on his worst rein!! all that hard work, and all we have to do is jump to get him on correct leg! lol...I wonder if after jumping we did flat work canter whether he will strike off on correct leg...hmmm...will try that tomorrow! LOL!
 

Queenbee

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I used to be terrible at rushing the trot into the transition - my instructor got me to actively slow the trot right down, almost to a jog, and go sitting, getting his hind legs really underneath him and then moving the outside leg back to 'bounce' him into canter.
Once you've perfected that you can move on to doing it out of a normal working trot - but always be thinking bouncy!

to get them more responsive and focused in general what i've been taught to do is first start of in walk, count 8 strides, ask for trot, count 8 strides, come back to walk for 7 strides, go into trot for 7 strides, walk 6, trot 6, walk 5, trot 5, walk 4, tort 4, walk 3, trot 3, walk 2, trot 2, walk 1, trot 1, slow the trot right down so its almost barely there and then push into working trot again, and so on. I've also done it with trot to canter and walk to canter, and because they can't count, they can't anticipate when you'll ask, so they have to focus and respond quickly. It won't suit all horses but it definitely worked for a fair few that i've ridden, and it's easy enough to do when schooling on your own. You can mix it up with doing the same thing on a serpentine, figure of 8, 20m circle and mixing it all together, so he really has to focus on whats being asked of him, not just pace but also direction at the same time :) sorry if i didn't explain it well! :)

I actually got some lovely transitions practising this tonight :) I tend to rush the trot into canter so I practiced getting a slow (but powerful) collected trot then asking for canter on the corner, instead of cantering from a fast strung out trot if that makes sense :)


Some really good and really relevant suggestions there that I can get my head around! Thanks guys! Going for a nice hack tomorrow but will finish off in the school working on some canter moves incorporating some of these ideas I think.

I think the idea is that they don't have a chance to trot more than few strides, so there is no rushed trote, it's a quick bring back to trot, and straightaway ask for canter, to encourage strike off on right leg....

Weirdly (and frustratingly!!)...when jumping, my horse will go on correct lead on his worst rein!! all that hard work, and all we have to do is jump to get him on correct leg! lol...I wonder if after jumping we did flat work canter whether he will strike off on correct leg...hmmm...will try that tomorrow! LOL!

Interestingly, Ben is the kind of horse that when you up it a gear, the other things seem to fall into place... For example, similarly he will land on the correct leading leg from a jump, if he is approaching a jump, already he will put in a flying change to correct it, and whilst he is learning to correct an incorrect lead with a flying change obviously we need to work on getting the correct lead in the first place :p, also, as you may or may not have seen, he is a stellar jumper in canter, but take it back to bare bones in trot and it was hideous (think bulldozer) whilst it's great that on some higher levels he is achieving things very naturally, it's also really hard, there is a huge temptation to skip steps when this happens (for example only focus on jumping from canter, and ignore the car crash jumping in trot) but this will only lead to carnage in the end, and end us up in sticky situations that we've missed vital training for, (for example those xc jumps you need to trot up to!). So, we are at the moment, focusing on the really bad bits, the hard bits, even though often the next stage is pretty damned good, we are having to put the brakes on, rewind and perfect the rough stuff. He is making lots of progress, within a week he has stopped bulldozing jumps from trot and actually jumping them incredibly nicely, I suppose, sometimes I just focus on what's bad, and not what's good. Which in itself isn't bad... I mean, if I focus on fixing it, it can only improve!
 

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Working in a corner of the arena so you can make use of the walls or fence initially, get a nice balanced trot on a 20m circle then spiral in, making sure you use your outside aids to keep your horse straight on the circle, when you feel nicely balanced, leg yield back out to 20m and ask from leg yield on the circle where the corner of the arena is to give the horse a wee bit of support to begin with.
Or find a nicely balanced trot by using loads of trot walk trot transitions around the arena using 10m circles in each corner of the arena and sit up rather than back asking out of one of the 10m circles. With practice eventually you'll be able to get a nice balanced transition anywhere in the arena.
 

MS123

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You could try leg-yielding into the corner in trot and canter from the leg-yield. It's something our instructor gets us to do and it gets the hind leg more underneath.

Same with my instructor too. This works really well with my mare who is super sharp and snappy and can get herself in a tiz with trot to canter transitions. I also find sitting trot (as in a few laps) - canter works well too. Stripping the trot right back (slower) engaging the hind legs should help him bounce into the canter. Once you have that nailed, introducing a working trot- canter should be alot easier.
 
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Lolo

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How long has he been in ridden work (actual schooling, not just getting used to a rider)? Canter's really hard and the transition from trot to canter takes a lot of balance and strength. Tango (who I think is Ben's 'peer') still finds it quite demanding. Al's approach is to do lots out hacking or in big spaces where they have lots of room and to not push it too hard in the arena until he's more confident. It means his dressage sheets for now are a mix of 8s (walk and trot) and 5s (canter) but he's getting more confident and correct and in a month or so we hope he'll be finding it easy.
 

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See I think I'm over complicating it.... I read a blog the other day about W to C and about essentially focussing an entire schooling session on getting them right, I followed the lesson to a t but all we got was rushing, no matter how many times I corrected and repeated.

Sometimes this can be the problem in itself - if you aren't getting something right and keep correcting to go again, that makes me horse quite worried and stressed. If something doesn't happen the way you wanted, try a couple more times then move on to something else, or find a different way to ask.

Do you jump? Mine used to struggle a bit with getting the correct lead on the right as would get himself in a bit of a tizzy, as it's his weaker rein/side. However, he would get it when he was jumping and stopped concentrating on being corrected continually. So it can be worth asking over poles. I also worked a lot of W-C then too, as he was naturally more forward and anticipating a bit.

Mine has been getting a bit tense in his T-C transitions recently so we've almost gone back a step. I make sure I have a nice forward, soft and energetic trot, then just push it on a little more, outside leg back, bit more inside leg and inside bend, and he pops up into it on his own. That is rather than sitting, which sometimes make mine get a bit tense and rush-y. Doing it while still rising means he doesn't change his trot rhythm or tense, just pops into a nice soft canter. Also, my transitions are worse on the right rein as I am quite weak due to an injury. I honestly look like a different person on each rein! :-0 On the right, I throw my inside rein at him so lose my bend and then get a rubbish transistion. So it's worth thinking about what your body is doing. Are you looking the right way? What are your legs doing? When i am right, my horse is right.
 

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My instructor has me get a good trot on a 20m circle then ask for canter as approaching wall - idea being that he with the wall coming up he will be less inclined to flatten out.
 

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I'm sure this is as much use as a chocolate teapot since I don't 'understand' it to explain it, but my last instructor had me give the canter aid by kind of scooping the inside seat bone in a u shape forwards. I have no idea why this works but my pony now does amazing walk to canter or trot to canter transitions. Perhaps because I think about my seat bone and not my legs I don't get the running trot. He thinks canter instead of go faster. Her way was quite nice, legs off asked for more, legs on asks for collection. It's a pity she also had me fiddling with my hands as the rest of it was a real revelation!
 

BethanT

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Now I know all the basics, sit back, outside leg back, don't rush the trot etc, and I tell myself all of this all the time but trot to canter has never ever been my strength, and I let Ben down, he does the transition but he flattens and then I collect him back.

Does anyone have any tips, what works for you? Just looking for some ways to improve our mo Jo with this.

What my instructor did to get my pony off her forehand - but also helped with snappy transitions - was to have us working on a 20m circle and randomly shout out gaits for both direct and indirect transitions, so "WALK" "CANTER" "HALT" etc. She would expect me to get it straight away to. It would get the horse responsive off your aids but it also got me just doing things without thinking too much which sounds like may help you.
 

Queenbee

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Thank you everyone! Such a variety of really useful tips to help us, it's really appreciated! Well today was a pressure free day... A bit of a blast off hack because it's our lesson tomorrow, in the end we didn't go in the school after the hack but only because he'd been brilliant out on the hack, we had done a bit of canter to blow the cobwebs away, but on the road home we focused on walk to trot transitions and staying calm and relaxed and rhythmical as he's recently tried his hand at jogging home. He was so flipping good, lots of transitions up and down and really working nicely, soft and engaged, so by the time we got home he got a big pat and we finished there, as I said, I have my lesson tomorrow, but on Sunday I'm going to school him and try him out with a few of these tips.
 

Cowpony

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to get them more responsive and focused in general what i've been taught to do is first start of in walk, count 8 strides, ask for trot, count 8 strides, come back to walk for 7 strides, go into trot for 7 strides, walk 6, trot 6, walk 5, trot 5, walk 4, tort 4, walk 3, trot 3, walk 2, trot 2, walk 1, trot 1, slow the trot right down so its almost barely there and then push into working trot again, and so on. I've also done it with trot to canter and walk to canter, and because they can't count, they can't anticipate when you'll ask, so they have to focus and respond quickly. It won't suit all horses but it definitely worked for a fair few that i've ridden, and it's easy enough to do when schooling on your own. You can mix it up with doing the same thing on a serpentine, figure of 8, 20m circle and mixing it all together, so he really has to focus on whats being asked of him, not just pace but also direction at the same time :) sorry if i didn't explain it well! :)

That's a great idea. I've been doing the walk for 8 beats, trot for 8, walk for 8, but my mare can count and starts to anticipate! :D
 

Queenbee

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How long has he been in ridden work (actual schooling, not just getting used to a rider)? Canter's really hard and the transition from trot to canter takes a lot of balance and strength. Tango (who I think is Ben's 'peer') still finds it quite demanding. Al's approach is to do lots out hacking or in big spaces where they have lots of room and to not push it too hard in the arena until he's more confident. It means his dressage sheets for now are a mix of 8s (walk and trot) and 5s (canter) but he's getting more confident and correct and in a month or so we hope he'll be finding it easy.


Lolo, he is rising 5, but his been schooling for about 15 months. I personally am more of the belief that it's not so much the difficulty of the transition for the horse, they manage it perfectly out in the field. It's the addition of a rider (and my faults) that make it difficult. :/
 
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