View Full Version : Gets quick during lengthen stride in trot

Jan. 17, 2011, 07:29 PM
I am schooling a TB-Andalusian mare, beginning First Level. The only wrinkle that has me completely stumped is, we can’t lengthen stride in trot without quickening tempo. She will remain soft in her mouth, even lift her shoulders a bit, but just puts her feet down faster. Her working trot, while naturally quick, is correct through her back and she otherwise adjusts like a dream. Lengthen stride in canter in and out is easy for her. I have heard that rushing can be a straightness and/or balance issue, but would like to know how to make it better. Anybody been there, done this?

Jan. 17, 2011, 08:56 PM
I think it is indeed a balance issue. What has worked for me in the past is to start off with literally two strides of a lengthening, and staying with just two strides until I can keep the same tempo. Then I go to four with keeping tempo, then six, etc. As soon as the horse loses balance and starts to run return immediately to the regular gait. That way they can start to understand you are asking for more impulsion upward, not forward.

Also, doing a ten meter circle before and after each lengthening can help sit them on their haunches even more.

Jan. 17, 2011, 09:21 PM
This is very do-able. Thank you!

Jan. 17, 2011, 10:15 PM
Good advice above esp the 10 metre circles.
I use it all the time for teaching mine.

But before that I like to help the horse get the idea of shortening and lengthening within the stride by shortening the stride a bit on the short sides and letting it out a bit on the long shortening again short side etc. Helps them get the idea.

Other ways to help are: Using the short side to quicken the stride and then coming out of the corner and just letting it flow can help too.
Trotting up hills. Makes the horse learn to push better.
Trails with friends. Get them ahead of you at a smart trot. Gives the forward impulsion and many just go into the 'overdrive' trot. Once they get it this way its usually easier to have them do it in the ring.

Jan. 17, 2011, 10:58 PM
I find that the set up makes all of the difference in the world. The circle described above is a good way to set up but also, use the corners to balance and prepare. I collect a little in the corner, make sure he is straight and then all I have to do is think lengthen and he goes. Forward and back transitions (with-in gait transitions) are a good way to set up for this as well.

Jan. 18, 2011, 12:07 AM
Today while doing forward and back within trot (our “accordion” exercise) I had the idea of matching the shortened steps to the quicker lengthened tempo, making them quicker too, and the little stinker still increased the tempo on the next lengthen. So we were really motoring at that point. :sigh:

Haven’t tried sandwiching the lengthen between 10-meter circles, but will certainly do so, as well as focusing more on the set-up prior to. All great suggestions, many thanks!

Jan. 18, 2011, 01:29 AM
It's definitly a balance issue. Balance is tipping forward when the horse is rushing. Try doing some movements that encourage engagement right before asking for your lengthenings. One of my favorites is shoulder in down the first half of the longside, then turn across a short diagonal to the corner, asking for the lengthening out of the shoulder in. You can also add shoulder in the new direction at the end of the diagonal.

Lots of correctly ridden from behind transitions and half halts which engage the hind legs help as well. There are any number of patterns to follow with that in mind. But one example is trot, halt, trot, halt, trot, halt, trot, lengthening.

I also find that the horses that don't find trot lengthenings easy often figure out how to lengthen rather than quicken when asked on an uphill gradient. So if you have a hill that you can work on, do a large figure eight on the side of the hill. Working on half halts and downward transitions down the hill, and lengthenings up the hill.


Jan. 18, 2011, 02:21 AM
OK, then I would also say, practice your trot walk trot transitions to get your horse listening to your aids and that will also help get them to use the caboose more as well. Then, as you come around the bend of the short side, collect and prepare (that will give him some place to go), make sure he is straight (very important), and go. And when I say go, if your horse offers canter, find, go is the key. I'd rather a canter than no response at all. Come around the short side and ask again. Remember, balance and straightness is the key.

Jan. 18, 2011, 05:20 PM
Can't wait to put these to use! Thanks, everyone!

Jan. 18, 2011, 05:42 PM
Wow, so many good methods. Got to try them all!

Jan. 18, 2011, 05:55 PM
Two things that I find will help, one is to use shoulder fore which helps to engage the hind end and free up the shoulders, this will strengthen the horse and once the horse can correctly do this exercise you can lengthen fron 10 meter circle to shoulderfore for a few strides then across a diagonal line and lengthen. The second is to utilize caveletti/ground poles. Using these will help the horse to develop carrying power in hind end and loins, and you can work on changing the distance between, making the horse have to do a longer stride but will prevent a quicker stride.

Nov. 19, 2014, 09:15 PM
Are you sitting or posting the trot? One thing I have learned which is counter-intuitive regarding slowing down the hind legs while asking for more power, is to keep the leg on the horse longer. For example, if you are posting the trot and squeeze when you sit, focus on slowing down your posting and keeping your leg on longer when you sit. If you are sitting the trot, focus on slowing down your seat bones left to right, and keeping your leg on longer. Is your horse a bit hot? For particularly hot horses, it can help to keep your leg just closed around the horse for a whole stride or two while riding the tempo with your seat.

exploding pony
Nov. 19, 2014, 10:00 PM
Post bigger, not quicker during the lengthening.

Don't just follow along the quicker tempo, you set the tempo with both the length of the post (don't stop short, post all the way forward to a completely open hip) and don't go quicker when he goes quicker.

Nov. 20, 2014, 09:21 AM
Whether sitting or rising, slow your hips. It sounds as though you are driving properly with your hips, but simply need to slow them.

Nov. 20, 2014, 09:41 AM
This thread is five years old! Lots of good advice, but I would imagine the OP has figured it out by now.

Nov. 20, 2014, 02:55 PM
This thread is five years old! Lots of good advice, but I would imagine the OP has figured it out by now.

Ha! Phantom threads keep showing up! I assume there was a spam post in there which bumped it.

Since other people are now going to read this, I feel as if I should respond with my recent experience...

My TB didn't get the concept of "lengthen." If he wanted to go faster at a trot at liberty, he would instead canter or just move his legs faster. So because that gear only existed to him when going faster, I let him change tempo to understand the concept of lengthening in general. I also worked a lot on going from a working to collected trot and back to working. Once he had both the concept of being able to have an additional gear of thrust from behind AND the idea of being able to hold a steady tempo when changing stride length (collected to working) I could ask for lengthened strides from working trot and he understood to lengthen without the change of tempo. Because he naturally didn't lengthen his canter, it took teaching him the pieces and connecting them for him. Work on a 20m circle instead of a straight line seemed to help him especially in connecting the concepts.

My warmblood filly naturally lengthens into an extended trot at liberty, keeping up with my TB's gallop without changing her tempo. Under saddle, getting lengthening is much easier because of that natural tendency, despite the fact my TB has far better balance (as he should - she's still young and figuring it all out.)

Nov. 20, 2014, 07:19 PM
I suspect some of his is part of the join up from another board, when the newest OP has 5 posts, and a recent join date. ;)

Welcome aboard, if you come in peace.