Transition Exercise’s For Your Horse

You may have noticed or seen over on our Instagram all my talk about transition work. Well they are the holy grail of everything when it come to putting manners on Dante, that and my instructor gave me loads of homework to do before our next lesson unamused face 

I have been focusing a lot on transition work when it comes to my lessons at home, and in my warm ups for competition. It is so beneficial not only for building up hind muscle but for using them as a form of putting manners on your horse when needed. I will admit I have been slacking slightly and have been letting Dante away with sloppy downward transitions, but keep reading to find out an exercise that I have done to help not only him but me in fixing this problem.

What I use Transitions For during my training sessions: 

  • To gain more control before & after fences
  • To get Dante to work off my leg more efficiently 
  • Getting Dante to listen & focus
  • Improving balance
  • Improve his hind end muscle

If your horse like mine has developed bad habits such as playing-up or taking off after jumps, I say give transition work a go. Using transitions after you land a jump can help you gather your horse, getting them to listen to you instead of taking off on their own accord. This in turn will help not only help with keeping a steady balanced canter after you jump, but in turn will help your horse find his feet and gain a more balanced canter. 

See below a great exercise I have been doing lately, helping me gain control by using my legs and seat over being to “handsy” during some of Dante’s outbursts of energy after jumping! 

How To Ride this Exercise: 

Step 1: Set up your arena as follows, simply two wings and a 2 poles in the center of the arena. If you wish to ride this exercise with a ground pole, that is fine, but I decided to incorporate a vertical to add a bit more of challenge for myself & for Dante.  

Step 2: Picking up canter, approach your fence, sitting still using your seat, legs to control the rhythm. I have been told by my trainer to use less hands, Still a fear of lacking in control that I am getting used to, but basically to keep a light contact into the fence, letting Dante do his job as I guide him in with my legs.

Fact: How I managed to get sprung with this exercise, well Dante was falling into his trot while transitioning down into canter after fences, or should I say me not focusing on the finer detail and letting him do it! 

Step 3: On your approach to the fence, you should preempt the rein you are going to land on so as when you land, two strides afterwards, you start your horse on a 10-15 meter circle keeping them in the canter. Once you come back on the original landing line prepare to bring your horse to a complete halt. This can be quite tricky, as with some horses with bad habits of rushing off, they will need time to adjust & get used to not being able to take control from the rider. 

Tip: Focus on using your legs & seat when asking your horse to come to an immediate halt. Sit back in the saddle, and apply pressure with your heel, if you wish to vocally say the word halt/stop this may help your horse piece that aids together. Remember to drop all aids and release pressure once your horse reacts to what you are asking them to do. This will act as a reward & make it easier for them to learn quicker. 

Step 4: Reward your horse. Reward & praise your horse when he(eventually!!) comes to a halt. repeat the exercise choosing to land on the opposite rein repeating the same steps. If your horse lands on the wrong lead, dont panic, push your horse to keep moving forward. This will help your horse to learn from themselves & learn about what leads they should be landing on. If your horse lands on the wrong lead just increase your landing circle size so that you give them more space. 

Tip: Don’t expect your horse to come to a complete halt on the first go, this will take practice as their muscles get used to what it is your asking them to do. It is best to start with canter to trot/walk transitions. Don’t be too hard on yourself, the first time I tried this with Dante, he tried to rear and take of into a fence!! 

This is also a great exercise to do on a simple 20metre circle, or if you want more of a challenge a 10m circle. Using various points of your circle to work on downward & upward transitions. Be sure to pick different points each time, and to mix the transitions up so that your horse doesn’t anticipate the exercise.

The Benefits & the outcomes

  • Help with Dante’s balance
  • Leg changes after fences, he will need to learn to balance himself by changing to the correct lead
  • Maintain a steady & consitant canter after I jump
  • Help build up his hind end, increasing his hind power
  • Relying on my leg aids more efficiently
  • Will make Darielle’s legs extremely strong (LOL)

Have you any specific transition exercises that you do? This is one I felt quite sceptical about at first especially when it came to posting it here, but look everyone has different ways of doing things. It works for me and that’s all that matters! 

Why not give it a go if you have a horse that rushes around courses, or a horse that you simply want to tell that you are the boss, Let me know in the comments below what you think, and what exercises you do

As always, thank you for reading,


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