If you want to work towards collection, tempo changes and transitions are very useful exercises. But… only if you execute the transition or tempo change correctly.
Only then will your horse improve and transfer more weight to the hindquarters.
But when do you execute a transition or tempo change correctly?
Before you start working on good transitions or tempo changes with the goal of collecting your horse, it is first important that you have the three basic conditions in order.
By this we mean that your horse is relaxed, has forward impulsion, and experiences contact with the hand as pleasant. That is your foundation and you want to have it in order every day.
If you don’t have that in order, your horse won’t really improve in terms of collecting more through a tempo change or transition.
Do not underestimate these basic conditions.
How do you know if you have the basics in order?
You may find it difficult to determine whether you have your horse well enough in order. That is very understandable, but I have a very handy way to check this.
If you have the basic conditions in order, your horse will always have the tendency to follow your hand forward-downwards. You can then say that the contact has a forward-downward direction.
By opening your hand, you can check if your horse’s contact actually has a forward-downward direction.
Does your horse come up with his head?
Then you didn’t have the basics in order at that moment.
And don’t be ashamed of this, okay? It is very common, but only if you are aware of it can you do something about it.
If you have this in order, it is then important that you also pay attention during the transition or tempo change to keep the basic conditions in order.
How do you know if you have the basics in order during a transition or tempo change?
In fact, you can check this in exactly the same way. So, even during a transition or tempo change, you can open your hands to see if you still have the basics in order.
Do you notice that your horse is pushing itself up? And does not have a forward-downward direction of the contact?
Then you have gone over the limit. You have lost the positive topline and the nice contact. And that is also not strange at all. Every rider experiences this.
But of course, you want to try to prevent such a situation. How do you do that?
A good rider will try to intervene in time when he is about to lose the basic conditions. Then you pause that transition or tempo change to first get the positive feeling back.
So, as soon as you feel that your horse is getting tensed or losing its impulsion, it is important to resolve this by going forward first. Going forward will allow your horse to regain relaxation and looseness more easily.
And that doesn’t always have to take a long time. It doesn’t necessarily take at least 2 laps, but sometimes it can be done with just 5 steps.
And finally, 3 tips to improve your transitions and tempo changes.
Tip #1 Ride slightly shoulder-in
In the online training, I advise riders to ride transitions and tempo changes in a slight shoulder-in.
This invites the hind leg to step more under the mass than if you were riding on two tracks.
Tip #2 Ride transitions and tempo changes on a circle
In addition to riding in a slight shoulder-in, you can also ride transitions and tempo changes on a circle. The bend in the body will again allow the hind leg to step more under the mass.
Make sure your horse is well bent around your inside leg and moves towards the outside rein. Additionally, you can also ride your horse in shoulder-in on a circle.
Tip #3 Ride a turn on the forehand as preparation
If you want to transition from walk to trot or canter, a common pitfall is that your horse throws itself too much forward, resulting in a pushing hind leg instead of a carrying one.
What can help in this situation is to ride a turn on the forehand with a few steps of backward movement. When you then transition to trot or canter, you will notice that your horse can maintain better balance.