Sometimes something is so obvious, you can overlook it until it hits you square between the eyes. This month for me, that kind of thing happened as I’ve been preparing for this week’s class on transitions.
Sure, we all know transitions are important. But in working with horses and students to build exercises that can really help you make better transitions, a really clear and obvious truth came up and just about slapped me in the face! Transitions are one of the best examples of “You get out what you put in.” Less eloquently “Garbage in = garbage out”.
When I was focusing my instruction on transitions, I spent less time reminding students where to put their hands. I spent less time talking about re-balancing their horses. I spent less time time repeating the words “impulsion!” and “outside rein!”
It wasn’t that I was ignoring all of those issues for the sake of working on the transitions. It was because the work we were doing on transitions was addressing the root causes of many of those issues. Those other issues didn’t disappear all together, but after the transition work, they were significantly improved. When we move onto any one of those other subjects, the work was more about refining those movements rather than trying to “fix” those issues.
The thing is that whatever gait you have a horse in, the quality of the transition into that gait has just about everything to do with the quality of the gait itself. If you enter a walk, trot, canter, or even a halt, without adequate preparation, the quality of the gait is going to be compromised.
It makes sense when you think about it. A transition is made up of three elements: preparation, execution, and follow through. “Preparation” is one of the key elements to building high quality movement. If you approach a movement with adequate preparation, you don’t have to spend time “fixing” the movement.
So there it is, something that I knew all along, but just need to be reminded of in a really clear way. Great transitions equal great movement.
This is one of the things that I love about putting these online classes together. In my efforts to make things as clear and understandable as possible for you, the subject becomes more clear for me as well. It’s a win-win!
If you’re curious about how to improve this aspect of your driving or riding, here’s a great lesson plan for working on transitions.