“The purpose of transitions,” says Beth Baumert in her new book WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN: DRESSAGE DYNAMICS, “isn’t to get into the gait of choice, but rather to do it with grace, in a way that improves the horse. Transitions can improve the connection and collect him.”
Transitions not only make life fun and interesting for the horse, they also put the rider in the position of leader. Here are Beth’s tips for riding good transitions:
- Make one change at a time.
- Convert the energy.
- Monitor the frame.
- Relax the neck.
- Monitor the bend.
- Monitor the rhythm.
- Monitor the speed.
- “Look for the possibility”—feel for the right moment to make the transition.
Exercise: Looking for the Possibility
“Looking for the possibility” of a transition is all about gaining access to the horse’s hindquarters and keeping connected to them.
Step 1 Do a trot-walk transition and immediately do a leg-yield or shoulder-fore. Then trot off again.
Step 2 Next, halt briefly and do a turn-on-the-forehand or a turn-on-the-haunches. Then trot off again. The turn or movement teaches the horse that he needs to stay connected and listening with his hindquarters in the walk. Even if the turn or the movement isn’t perfect, it improves him, making the next upward transition more supple, engaged, and obedient. It makes the next transition more possible.
Step 3 Do variations of the same theme: Leg-yield or confirm your shoulder-fore before the transition to canter. These transitions help you retain the ability to “Go” in downward transitions, and they help you retain the ability to “Whoa” in the forward work. When the circle of aids is working you can easily adjust your horse within that circle, making anything possible. You want to be in the “land of all possibilities.”
Find other great insight and exercises in Beth’s new book WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN: DRESSAGE DYNAMICS, available now from the TSB online bookstore.
Here’s what top riders, trainers, and judges are saying about WHEN TWO SPINES ALIGN: DRESSAGE DYNAMICS:
“Sometimes when I’m teaching I find myself thinking my student really needs to read Beth Baumert’s book. The perspective and the words she’s chosen give a welcomed fresh approach to describing the theories behind training.” —George Williams, Member, US Dressage Team and President, United States Dressage Federation (USDF)
“I absolutely LOVE this book! It grabbed me from the moment I read the words ‘perfect balance’ and ‘that place where two spines meet’—you get such a great visual from this! When teaching, it can be a struggle to help riders who can’t seem to balance themselves. This is where author Beth Baumert provides a valuable tool: She explains why the rider’s balance is the key to the horse’s balance and how a controlled interaction of balance ultimately leads to success and harmony. This book is where the magic begins.” —Debbie McDonald, Two-Time Olympian and USEF Developing Dressage Coach
“Beth Baumert and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to horses and dressage training. Now she has created the best guide I’ve seen for those who really want to grasp the ins and outs of dressage—I’ve never read a book covering all facets of dressage in this detail. With all that is going on in our sport today, I hope that riders—now and in the future—will pursue dressage as it is described here by Beth.” —Henk van Bergen, Former Chef d’Equipe, Dutch National Dressage Team and British National Young Riders Developing Team, and Member, FEI Judges Supervisory Panel
“This book is truly timeless. I can humbly admit that it clarified some subject even for me, after a lifetime of being involved with dressage. It is the equivalent of countless clinics given by some of the best in the world.” —Axel Steiner, FEI 5* Dressage Judge (Retired), USEF “S” Judge, and USDF “L” Program Faculty Member
“Beth Baumert’s book is desperately needed. I see many riders going down the wrong road, often because of a dubious understanding of the term ‘dressage’ and a limited view of its importance. Whatever you are riding—whether hunters, ponies, jumpers—I recommend that you learn about and use dressage in your schooling, if only for reasons of maintaining soundness. I’m lucky that, in my life of riding and teaching, there has never been jumping without flatwork. But that’s in my own little world. Today’s riders are too consumed with cosmetics and competition. Even riders at the top have somehow lost what the Masters knew centuries ago! Every rider needs to know the basic tenets of dressage, and so I recommend When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics. I can’t say enough good about it.” —George Morris, Former Chef d’Equipe, US Show Jumping Team
“This is a great book! It mirrors what I see in Beth Baumert’s students—they all demonstrate a very classical way of riding and training horses. When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics clearly explains the classical foundation of how the rider should balance and sit so that he or she can then educate the horse. Beth has provided a valuable tool for all kinds and levels of riders.” —Bo Jena, Chef d’Equipe, Swedish Dressage Team and FEI 4* Judge