'Transitions are your life'... those were the first words my trainer said to me when I took up the reins on my very first lesson. I honestly never expected him to say that. It seemed so simple when he said 'lets start with transitions', I was all ready to crack on with 'tricky' stuff like lateral work. Oh how wrong I was! Transitions are essential to your training, getting them perfect is a whole other ball game too! Here's my top 5 reasons why transitions should be your life:
- They improve focus/attention: My horses have a tendency to be a little 'hot' a times. I find transitions both within and out of the pace really help to improve their focus on me as opposed to everything else that is going on around them.
- They improve balance: Each transition encourages your horse to engage his hind quarters so the balance shifts more from the forehand (which is natural to them) to the hindquarters.
- Transitions help with preparation: As transitions help engage your horse they make them more maneuverable for the next movement. The increase in focus also help prepare for the next task asked of them. Preparation is key after all. Essentially those horses who were light in the forehand and had their weight more on their hind quarters made them more maneuverable when on the battle field.
- Transitions improve your horses responsiveness: Sometimes it can feel like your horse is just working through the normal daily motions. Transitions help keep them on their toes as they don't know what's coming next. Therefore it increases their responsiveness and should encourage them to stay 'in front of your leg'.
- They help improve your scores: A more attentive, sensitive horse who is in front of your leg should help with a smoother test as your horse is 'on your aids'. Occasionally in dressage the transition is a marked movement. Even if it isn't, transitions improve the movement by making it more balanced. A smoother, balanced test means higher scores and a happy, harmonious relationship between you and your 4 legged friend!
Not only that but wasn't it the King of Dressage himself, Mr Carl Hester, who said you should do at least 100 transitions within one training session? I'm not sure about you but if he rates them, then so do I!