Great game for easing into canter – and for light and soft transitions

  1. We do this in an arena.  60 x 20m.  You can do it in other sizes, but the size of this is perfect.   So try to mark that kind of area out, as best you can if you don’t have an arena.
  2. The longsides are for GO!  I want you to trot as fast as YOU FEEL SAFE!  If things get out of control and feel scary…CIRCLE!  Here’s some great tips for an upward transition:
        1. Look at the horse’s inside ear
        2. Make a kiss sound three times
        3. Then SOFTLY use your latago or reins left and right over the horse’s shoulders
        4. Our goal is to try NOT to use the leg to go for a change, but teach the horse to go just with your body!
  3. The shortsides are for SLOW!   PRIOR TO THE CORNER I want you to do a downward transitions starting at the top of your body and working your way down…
        1. eyes up
        2. nose up (don’t overdo it…this has to be INVISIBLE!)
        3. chin up
        4. Adam’s apple showing
        5. Chest up
        6. Hands down
        7. Check if you’re still kicking…toes in – toes up.  The horse won’t stop if you’re kicking!  We only use the leg for a downward transition if we want to STILL KEEP GOING!  For example, if you’re doing extended trot and you wanted collected trot, then obviously you don’t want to stop.  You can still do this downward transition starting from your eyes to do the transition through ENGAGEMENT, not from the reins!  Then, you keep your leg ON to keep the horse going!  Downward transitions with the leg ON is for WITHIN the pace.  Downward transitions with the leg off and a little forward is for a downward transition down to the next pace.
        8. Most people lean forward…so carefully lean back until your pony tail hangs straight, off your back (BUT NO FURTHER – you must not lean back!!!).
        9. If the horse doesn’t stop to this, then use your reins.  Circle, or half halt, but make sure the horse knows that all those previous aids mean STOP!
        10. OUR GOAL:  is to sit the horse down, lower the horse’s tail.  We call that engagement.  And engagement CAUSES the downward transition.  And, the more engaged the horse, the more sat down, often the shorter the steps…and shorter steps is…COLLECTION.   but  not with the bridle – with ENGAGEMENT!
  4. The goal is this:
        1. How SLOW can you get your horse to go on the SHORTSIDE without touching the reins
        2. How FAST can you get the horse to go down for the LONGSIDE without touching your reins
        3. After a while if you use look – kiss – flip flops…one day you look at that horse’s ear and the horse canters!
        4. After a while if you use look up – chest up etc….one day you look up and the horse will stop!
  5. The “mistakes”
        1. Sooner or later your horse will walk on the shortside.  Don’t think of it as a “mistake” falling out of trot.  This is wonderful!  You’ve really done it.  You’ve really done a downward transition ONLY with engagement.  Not your hands!
        2. Sooner or later your horse will canter on the longside. Again, it’s not a “mistake”, it means you’ve really done it.  You’ve got the horse to go fully forward just using your body!  Not your heels!
        3. But don’t worry about the horse going ‘faster’ and ‘slower’.  No sport allows the horses to go faster and slower, especially dressage, however it was from the Royal Schools in Europe I adapted this exercise in the first place.  Although, yes, the horse is going ‘faster’ and ‘slower’, it still is a WONDERFUL exercise, and we don’t worry too much about tempo and regularity as we ride to music all the time and our horses are trained to take longer and shorter steps to the same music.  So, it’s never been a problem that we’re going faster and slower.  So, enjoy!


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