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Dressage Horse

Dressage: How To Keep Your Horse Connected Through Transitions

Featured Image Credit (CC):  Bob Haarmans on Flickr

Submitted by member: Jodi

How do I keep my horse on the bit (accepting contact) and coming from behind in transitions?

Answer by Verena Mahin

One of the biggest and most important things to remember when riding transitions, is to keep your leg on. It’s common in downward transitions in particular to use more of the hand then the seat and leg. In order to keep the horse pushing from behind and staying connected, the rider’s leg needs to support the horse from pushing sideways and away from the hind leg. For horses that are really sensitive, you can try riding transitions more on bending lines, such as the shoulder-in or on the circle. This will force you to put your leg on and ride correctly from your seat to support your horse and encourage correct thoroughness and proper balance.

In upward transitions, be careful not to throw the contact away in an attempt to “help” the horse to go forward. This has the opposite effect, and actually prevents you from keeping proper weight in the reins, which aids in correct balance. Transitions are the bridge between the gaits. Your delicate support is essential to riding successful transitions. You must be subtle yet supportive. Support your horse in any way you can, without holding or gripping. This is the art of true connection and perfect balance. Good luck and master the Art!”

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A supple horse who is relaxed and whose physical and mental state indicate he enjoys his work is, of course, ideal in any discipline and especially dressage. A tense, stiff or rigid horse is unable to use his body effectively and can’t properly demonstrate rhythm, relaxation, connection, impulsion, straightness or collection. Join Verena Mahin as she shares her favorite exercises to attain a greater degree of suppleness that subsequently allows the horse to move with bigger, more expressive gaits.
Running Time:  32 minutes and 44 seconds

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Verena Mahin

Verena is the owner and trainer at the California based VS Dressage Inc. She has had many successes at FEI level, competing and coaching through Grand Prix. In 2011 she coached two riders representing Puerto Rico at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Verena clinics all over the country. Learn more about her and how to book a clinic at:

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