Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Not So Hypothetical Question

As I was working Spider today, I thought of something. We were working on trot to canter transitions. Specifically, we were working on making the trot to canter and canter to trot transitions good.

Say you are making an upward transition from trot to canter. Say you make a bad transition. Your bad transition results in a bad canter. Do you immediately transition back to trot and redo the upward transition, possibly risking making a bad downward transition as well? Or, do you fix the canter, make the downward transition and then redo the upward transition?

I can see pros and cons for both scenarios. But I'm interested in everyone else's opinions.


  1. I guess I usually fix the canter first, because it's usually my fault for not riding the transition properly. I don't want to discipline McKinna for my mistake.

    I don't take a long time to fix the canter, though - I let her take four or five strides, asking for a good-quality canter, then a quiet trot transition.

    That's just us, though. I have a willing horse who is trying hard to do what I ask. If I was dealing with resistance about the transition, where I was pretty sure I was riding as correctly as I could and the horse still had a poor transition, I might transition back down immediately and redo it as a correction.

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  3. Yeah, I agree. I would let the horse keep cantering because you asked him to go forward, and then quietly ask for trot. Once you have a really good trot, ask again for the canter. And if you aren't getting many good trot-canter transitions, don't work it to death. It's probably because there are other issues the horse needs to work on through other things. Do lots of walk-trot-walk stuff to build up his confidence and muscles. Those are just my thoughts. :-)

  4. I agree about fixing the canter first. Immediately bringing the horse back to the trot could well add to the confusion, because bad canter or not, the horse did respond to your aid with the gait you requested. Better to let him know, "Yes, I did ask for canter, and let's get a good one."

    I'd be more likely to redo the transition only if it didn't actually happen..say the horse just trotted faster.

    To me obedience to the aids is primary. "This cue means canter, whether you are in proper balance or not." You don't want to mess that up, but rather refine it.

  5. According to behaviour science, you only work on one criteria at the time. So if you work on UP transition, you concentrate on that one. Then you work on down transition.
    I know in reining that a bad transition to canter, will have the horse stopped then asked again, if it is correct, the horse is "left" alone. Then the horse is stopped that is the reward for doing the right thing.
    That is how a reiner will do ^-^

  6. Last night Teena was diagnosed with a stiffle problem. If you have a minute, I woudl liek your ideas on what kind of work to do.

  7. HHHMMMM. I thin if it was a really bad transition up to canter then I would bring him back to a trot very quickly, re organise and go again. Other wise try to sort the canter out quickly, try to get a good downward transition and start all over again. It is a catch 22 sometimes and a hard one. I personally can't concentrate on too many things at once - hence why I am not a horse trainer so I tend to work on one thing at a time. Eventually it does all come together!

  8. Good question. I'm interested in the answers too, as it's one of my current training areas.
    For me, when I get a canter, but it isn't a good transition, I still let him canter long enough to know that he is right to have cantered. After I get a good one I stop practicing.


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