How to ride smoother canter transitions

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British Dressage judge and freelance trainer Alison Short has advice for riding smooth canter transitions

Some horses can have a cheeky temperament and Malley is no exception – he can sometimes throw the odd buck and show some tension. This temperament, when channelled correctly, can often give you the edge in a competition. If this sounds like your horse, the key is to keep him mentally occupied.

The exercise

Riding a small circle and asking for a little bit of leg-yield before asking for canter encourages your horse to take more contact in your outside rein and helps you achieve smoother transitions.

How to ride it

1. Ride a 10m circle at A.

2. On the last part of the circle, leg-yield towards A and into the corner after A.

3. Transition to canter.

Tips for successl

“As you ride your 10m circle at A, look through your horse’s ears like the sights on a gun to help you ride accurately and remain centred in your body position,” says Alison. “On the last part of your circle, use your inside leg to leg-yield towards A and into the corner. As
you feel an increased weight in your outside rein, ask for a transition to canter with your outside leg (stroking back from the girth).  

“The trick to a smooth transition is to stabilise your core and concentrate on something above the horizon, this then enables you to sit back and use your legs to ride your horse up to the contact.

“The leg-yield centralises you over your horse. If you can sit equally on both seat bones you’re in control of both engines.”

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