Transitions are all about balance. We can make transitions within the gaits or between them. We can make transitions between exercises. Transitions improves our horses balance, suppleness and throughness.
Transitions are an essential part of horse training and riding. Transitions can occur within gaits, between gaits, and in and between exercises. Here on the picture me and Koppar are working with weight shifts backwards. So what do I mean with transition in this context? Transitions between the weight shift backward and then to go back forward again. I often see this type of balance lacking and horses that is only reinforced for the backwards part of the weight shift.This makes the movement look a bit different. Here I use the target in front of us to ask him for forward down after the weight shift. This is a great strengthening exercise and keeps balance and encourage the horse to search forward.
But more than that it also helps with the overall balance of the session, the horse doesnt have to do more and more of what is the physically more demanding exercise. He can help show me how much much is. I always want to give my horses a way to EXIT our exercises. This means, in this example, that the only way to get a reinforcer isn't to do more and more of the weight shift backwards. Here touching the target also do that. This is a mindset I want all my horses to know and comes down to why I’m so meticulous about teaching a balanced session structure.
So in this sense transitions also works as an exit point where my horses can show me what they prefer, if I need to be clearer or if I they simply prefer something else this day. In my experience having this transition as a foundation creates a horse that really loves working with you. Especially when working with physically demanding things this is important. When I initially teach an exercise like the weight shift backwards I first install the exit point and try to put them together as soon as possible. From a dressage perspective this also keeps my horses searching forward and sticks to the principles of not collect more than you can lengthen.