Esther Horsfall set up Shaw Farm Equestrian in 2008 to offer 5* livery and training in the North of England. Since then, Esther has used her 25+ years of experience to train many horses and riders, while also competing her own horses to a high level in dressage. Esther is passionate about what she does and that comes across in her work, looking at the horse and rider as a whole package. That is why they offer so much more than just a normal yard, including TheraPlate sessions for both horses and riders.

So, now we know a little more about Esther, let’s dive into her article on Transitions!


You can never ride too many transitions!!

So if I was to be asked what is the golden rule of training our horses… It would be to never ride a bad transition.

We use transitions in our day to day riding far more than people realise, whether it be happy hackers or top level riders, transitions are there and are an important role in our riding.

As for training the dressage horse, they are the one tool we all need in order to prepare our horses, balance our horses and to check our horses are with us.

Transitions will without a doubt help improve your horses rhythm, balance, self carriage, reactions, concentration, suppleness and connection to name a few!

Direct transitions from one pace to another are a great tool to check reactivity but also transitions within the pace in order to check our horses are in front of our leg and ‘with us’.

I see so many riders who just ride round and round the arena in the hope their horses way of going improves!! But how if we don’t change something or do something to help or do something to show the horse there’s another way!!

So start off with some basic training by setting yourself a goal to ride on a more regular basis with the focus of transitions within your training.

Start with direct transitions from one pace to another and ensure the reaction is there and your horse is switched on, if not you need to ride with more energy in order to gain more reaction from your horse. From there then aim to wean your horse off the more energetic aid and into a much more subtle, quiet aid. Then work towards playing around with your horses tempo within the pace to checking whether you can ride a transition within the pace and send the horse more forward or bring the horse back to you a little.

Repeat repeat repeat!!

Minimum input from the rider and maximum output from the horse is the end goal!

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