Over lunchtime I was reading a very old copy of a well known equine magazine, in which they were interviewing Carl Hester.
The magazine was so old they were talking about the run up to the Olympics. But I digress.
In his interview Carl stated, as I’ve heard before, that you should aim to ride 100 transitions per schooling session. Now that’s a hell of a lot.
So I tried to work out how many I did in each session.
The initial walk period I probably do four halt transitions, and then perhaps five lengthening or shortening in the walk to get my horse concentrating on me and not his BFF in the stable. A couple of rein backs, Moving into trot. I don’t think I do more than 15 transitions to walk over the whole schooling session. But I probably do ten transitions to halt. Then within the trot, probably up to 20 transitions. But that’s only really because I’m focusing on his medium work. As a rough guess you can repeat these numbers for the canter work, then subtract some as I don’t spend as much time in canter at the moment, giving a grand total of ninety transitions. And that’s when I’m really thinking about riding them!
So then I tried to think of ways to incorporate them more; there’s no point just saying “I’m going to ride five transitions on this rein then change it” because they end up being sloppy. An exercise I use for groups to stop them copying the rider in front is to make them ride a transition at each dressage letter.
Another exercise I’m quite into at the moment, which is great for working the seat, is to ride a ten metre circle in each corner of the school in trot. Across the letters E and B ride a transition to walk and then back into trot. At A and C ride a transition to halt. Horses have to focus on the rider, it teaches them to think independently and I get closer to my goal of 100 transitions! Serpentines with transitions over the centre line are an easy way to boost numbers too.