Downward Transitions

I’m pretty sure we’re ALL guilty of bad downward transitions!  When you want to reward your horse, or when you get tired and need to take a break, it’s so easy to just collapse into the walk – but this is SO BAD for the training! We must remember to keep the horse active, in frame, and stepping forward in the downward transition, and then give them a break!

The horse must work during the transition and gets to rest after the transition!

Some of the most common mistakes in the downward transitions are:

  • Rider pulls on the reins, horse braces
  • Horse looses impulsion and screeches to a stop
  • Horse hollows
  • Rider tips forward
  • Horse falls on the forehand

Here are some tips to help you get “forward downward” transitions so that the horse steps forward and through the transition-

  • make the transition is form your seat and core (the voice can also help)
  • Push the horse a little off of the inside leg to help get them to step forward and through from the inside hind leg. (Think shoulder-in)
  • Keep your leg on in the downward transition to help keep the hind leg moving

In Dressage, we want a seamless change from one gait to another with invisible aids from the rider and no disruption to the horse’s balance, harmony, or frame.

Remember that the quality of the downward transition depends on the quality of the gait prior to the transition – so make sure that you have a good trot before transitioning to the walk.  And you will need to activate and add energy before doing a downward transition!


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