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Question: I’ve finished the Fundamentals and am working on the Intermediate level with my horse. When doing Bending Transitions, when I sit back in the saddle at any gait, she stops immediately. How do I get her to keep the forward movement during the transition without confusing her or teaching her not to stop off my seat? Should I not sit back and just bend at the trot or canter to get her softening? – MoEarle
Answer: It sounds like you’ve got your horse responding well to you and she’s paying close attention to you when you’re working with her. Great job! To get her to keep her feet moving throughout the Bending Transitions exercise, you need to adjust your cues. When doing the exercise, I tell you to sit back in the saddle and to take your legs off the horse to warn him that you’re about to slow down. This gives the horse a chance to slow down on his own.
Then you slide one hand down the rein, pull it up to your hip, and at the same time, press the middle of the horse’s ribcage with your inside leg. All of this happens quickly and smoothly. It’s not like you sit down in the saddle to cue the horse that you’re going to ask him to slow down. Wait two minutes until he slows down and then pick up on the rein and press his side with your leg. It’s sit back in the saddle one second. Cue him for the bend the next second.
Initially, you exaggerate to the horse by really sitting deep in the saddle, however, the more you work with your horse and the further along you get in the Method, the more responsive your horse will get to your cues. So eventually to get her to slow down to a walk from a canter all you’ll have to do is slightly drop your weight back in the saddle and take your legs off her and she’ll immediately come back to you.
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