As the new digital editor/producer for TheHorse.com, I’ve recently spent a bit of time thinking about transition. The past few months have brought a lot of change for me. I have a new job, new coworkers, new projects, and a completely new routine. But, like many things in my life, my thoughts on transition didn’t become totally clear until I swung my leg over the back of my horse.

For a horse unencumbered by a rider, upward transitions—halt-walk, walk-trot, trot-canter—are relatively simple. In these instances, the horse changes gait for one of two basic reasons: He’s either trying to get to or away from something. And, at other times, a transition transpires for no reason other than the horse’s joy of moving forward.

When you throw a human into the mix, things get a bit more complicated. We have expectations, thoughts of doubt, and the endless need to “do things the right way.” I find this especially true in my chosen sport of dressage, where type-A humans often join forces with equally type-A horses.

My new dressage horse (Did you read the word “new”? Like I said, I’ve experienced a lot of change recently.), an overly anxious but sweet gelding named Marathon, pointed this out to me as we recently struggled to make a sticky trot-to-canter transitions on the right lead. I clicked, kissed, and doubted; he tried, hopped, and missed. I worried. Is he sound, does he hurt? Is it his back, his leg, his hoof, his attitude? Is he going to buck or bolt? Will I stay on? The more I fussed, the more he pinned his ears, wrung his tail, and took to his stress-related habit of spooking at any speck of light or dust he could find.

Then, as I rode our trot work, I began to realize that every step is a transition. Each time you apply your leg, wiggle your fingers, or cluck your tongue, you’re initiating movement and change. Adding those small cues together, you get the big, bold, and breathtaking movements that define the sport. Our elite competitors understand this better than anyone, which is why you rarely see the aids they apply as their horses transition from one expertly executed movement to the next.

Life, I’m starting to think, is kind of like that too. We’re constantly in motion, and while we may try to kick, cuss, and cluck our way through big changes, these moments of inertia happen best when we break them into tiny transitions and take them one balanced stride at a time.

And yes, that right-lead canter is getting better.

But, it makes me wonder, how do your horses help you handle transition and change in your life?

Until next time, may you ride in the sunshine.