Transitions are, by far, the thing Taran struggles most with. I'm not sure if it's his conformation (downhill), his training (good but inconsistent), or lack of strength, but any upward transition of his starts with his head and ends with his hind legs. In other words, he tosses his head in the air, lifts his front feet off the ground into the new gait, and then eventually his hind legs catch up.
The good news is that even in just a month, he's getting soooo much better. Walk-trot transitions are now usually come from behind and are fairly steady, and the right lead trot-canter transition is pretty good too. However, he still struggles a lot with the left lead trot-canter transition, and here's why:
Last trot stride...
To ensure a bad transition, stick your leg way forward and throw away the reins. Works every time (for what, I'm not sure).
See how the transition has started with his head coming up? It's like he uses his head and neck to lift his front feet off the ground.
Now that his head is out of the way, his front feet can start cantering. Hind feet are still trotting.
But because I can't only do one crappy canter depart per lesson, I had to try again...
Last full trot stride before the canter
Front end has started doing something but back end is still trotting (and I'm pulling on my inside rein like a PRO. Don't try this at home, folks.)
Maybe we're cantering? Maybe not? I can't tell and I don't think Taran can either.
Oh wait, the LF looks like it might be cantering.
Yep, the front end has just taken an abbreviated canter stride... but I think the back end is STILL trotting.
Front end cantering, back end trotting.
Wait! I think the back end might be catching up!
Maybe we'll do a canter pirouette?
It's starting to look like... could it be???
Finally got legs untangled enough to canter!
To address this issue, we're working on REALLY engaging the left hind before transitions. Leg yields are helping lots, not just with engaging the hind leg but actually getting him straight into both reins and have him carrying his weight evenly. He likes to lean a bit on his left shoulder, which sometimes means he pops into the RIGHT lead when I'm asking for left, and keeping him even prevents that. When I am coordinated enough to have all the pieces together, he really steps up into the canter from behind, and it feels pretty awesome. When he's not, I feel like I'm riding two horses for those moments when he's getting it straightened out.
What do you struggle the most with in your transitions?