Everyone Loves A Transformation Post

While I was reflecting on Bast's eight year old birthday, I wondered what kinds of changes he's made in his gaits. His training has had so many ups and downs over the years, I found it hard to really internalize how far we've come. As I dug into the media, it turns out we've definitely made some wild changes for the better!

Everyone loves a good transformation post, right? Let's go!

The Walk:
Recently off the track 2017 walk on top. Retraining progress in 2020/2019 (1st level) on bottom.
Changes in the walk are always hard to see, especially in photos. Plus, I don't have a lot of photos to compare similar moments in the walk. However, there's a significant improvement in softness in the topline while walking, and acceptance of contact. What you can't see, but I can feel? A bigger step, more swing in the back, and a better rhythm. All huge pluses.

The Trot:
Recently off the track 2017 trot on top. Retraining progress in 2020 (1st level) on bottom.
Ah, the trot. One of the easier gaits to see transformations, I think. What's really standing out to me here? Uphill balance. You see it in the recent photos, you don't see it in the older ones. One big development recently has been unlocking Bast's shoulders, and teaching him he can lift and reach through them. That's really important in developing consistency in connection, and his comfort reaching from behind. As a short coupled horse, he struggles with having enough room under his body for his hind end reach. Lifting the shoulder gives him room to collect without stepping on himself.

It took Pig forever to get to this point, so I'm really excited this is something Bast is developing a feel for earlier.

The Canter:
Recently off the track 2017 canter on top. Retraining progress in 2020 (1st level) on bottom.
Bast's canter has taken for actual ever to improve. Part of that was me getting better at riding the mechanic (thanks Megan for talking me through this 1000x, and also my trainer at home for continuing to beat me over the head with it). Part of it was also Bast finding relaxation in his developing balance, and building trust that I could be there to support him.

His go to move in the canter is now and every shall be flattening out, ripping the reins from my hands, and falling forward into a fast shuffle. You can see him doing just that in the top right photo above. Solving that problem has required me to solidify my own seat, and become a more effective rider. Turns out that particular skill helps a lot with all things.
Who knew being more effective at riding translated to better riding. ;)
The canter still has a long way to go. I can feel he has a lot more uphill balance to develop, and a lot more jump to continue to build into the gait. I'm hoping unlocking this will allow changes and lateral work at the canter to come more easily to us both. Fingers crossed!

Anyone out there using this quieter time to look back at how far you and your horse have come? Let's see more transition posts! Feel free to link them in comments so we can all see and cheer each other's progress. I'm working on a second version of this post that includes gifs of all gaits, so you can see how much his movement has changed. Is there anything else you'd be interested in seeing?


  1. I wanna hear you expound more on your new understandings of riding the canter!

  2. i was sorta kinda hoping we were on the cusp of something important in the canter this past spring. maybe something having to do with how i approach it differently in the dressage ring vs when i'm jumping, when maybe at least for where we are now, i should not. ah well, something to look forward to whenever the "after" happens!!

    Bast does look wonderful too ;)

  3. I love transformation posts. In all three gaits I see a stronger top line and push from behind.

  4. even though these are static photos, you can really see the change where he goes from pulling with his shoulder to coming from the back. it's neat!!


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