Commonly asked for in elementary dressage tests, transitions within the pace – for example, medium canter to collected canter – can be hard to perfect.
The judge will be looking for fluency between the paces, so crisp, clean transitions will gain higher marks.
International dressage rider Charlie Hutton shares an exercise to help achieve a better dressage score from transitions.
This exercise is split into three steps and should be ridden equally on both reins.
Go large around the arena in canter. Make a transition to walk as you ride into the corner on the short side and a canter transition on the way out.
To help get your timing right, count down 3, 2, 1. Collect the canter: half-halt on the outside rein, three strides on the spot. Keep your upper body tall and walk.
Ride into the corner as if you’re going to ask for a walk transition, but instead maintain the collected canter on the short side and ride forwards again as you come onto the long side.
Now you’ve practised the first two steps, you can ride the movement for real. Ask for medium canter down the long side.
Make it gradual, then collect the canter as you reach the final marker by bringing your upper body back and supporting with your lower leg.
Over time, you’ll find that by adjusting your upper body position your horse will start to collect himself.
For more advice from Charlie on perfecting your dressage technique, read the full article in issue 451, available here.
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