Photo by: Katherine Mustafa Photography (Flickr)……

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A smooth transition is a sign of a well-trained horse. And while it may seem simple to achieve, it actually requires a considerable amount of energy and balance. As the rider, you must learn how to correctly ask for each transition- both upward and downward. Get ready to practice and practice some more! When a horse correctly transitions, their hindquarters engage and their front end becomes lighter. The rider needs to encourage the horse to swift their weight and come under themselves.

Upward Transitions

  • For halt to walk and walk to jog, your legs should drive at the horse’s cinch. Your weight should be back on your seat bones. And your reins should be open to allow forward movement.
  • For the jog to lope, the inside leg remains at the cinch while the outside drives behind the cinch. Your weight should be slightly heavier on your inside seat bone. Additionally, there should be a slight bend with the inside hand. The outside rein needs to be held steadily.

Downward Transitions

  • For the walk to halt, jog to walk and lope to jog, the seat sinks down and stops following the motion. Each leg supports the horse at the cinch. And the reins are held steadily.
  • Use your core muscles to signal your horse to “come back”. They create a wall that should tell the horse to slow down.
  • This isn’t an emergency stop. The reins shouldn’t be heavily relied on, rather your seat, legs and even voice should be primary aids. Your seat is a valuable tool in riding!
It takes a skilled rider to realize how strong their leg and rein aids should be. Each horse will vary in their sensitivity.