Canter-To-Trot Transitions

My transitions are pretty good, especially up transitions. However, one is killing us: the canter-to-trot transition. Her canter is balanced now, as opposed to being very on the forehand when we started together two years ago. The other down transitions are fine.

But in canter to trot, we both fall apart, with my mare breaking abruptly into a fast trot. I’ve tried to warn her before the transition with a half halt, but I seem to get nothing. Then if I do the half halt too hard she stops. Can you give me some help’

Horse Journal Response: The canter-to-trot transition is all about balance. That means using more leg and weight aids than rein aids to keep the hind end active and support a light forehand. Think of this transition as ”forward to trot,” with an active leg that sends the horse up to a hand that is closed but not pulling in any way. You should have a direct connection with the bit (no loop in the rein). Your shoulders should be up over your hips and your head up, or else the tilting of your upper body will over-weight the forehand and the horse can’t help but ”fall” into a fast trot.

Here’s a neat trick that can also help: Keep your shoulders back, close your legs and hand (don’t pull!). At the moment you want the transition, blow out your breath deeply, as if you’re trying to blow out a candle placed between the horse’s ears. This drops your weight down into your seat and stirrups, and the horse will likely move right into a balanced, active trot. A variation of this technique is to ”cough,” which has the same effect.

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