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JumpingForJoy
Apr. 5, 2011, 02:02 PM
I have a TB who I have been working quite heavily on developing his flatwork before we start heading into jumpers. We got a new trainer about 5 months ago and the difference has been amazing - he is developing a nice topline and is really turning into a different horse overall. While his walk and canter have improved lengths and bounds, his trot contines to pose a challenge for me.

For whatever reason, Winston does not stay on the bit in the trot as consistently as he does in the walk and canter. Our trot ends up going like this: A couple of strides of trot on the bit, then a couple of strides above the bit, then back on, etc. I am riding him forward and keeping a steady tempo so I don't think he is sucking back. He has always been the hyper-aware curious type that will throw his head up when there is something to look out. I more feel like his coming up above the bit is a way of him taking a "time out" to check something out.

While he is good about listening/responding when I "remind" him to go on the bit, he doesn't hold it consistently like the walk/canter for whatever reason. I don't feel that I should routinely have to remind him and I am worried about a bad habit developing...

I am going to ask my trainer as well but any ideas? In case it makes any difference, I ride him in a loose ring snaffle bit in a figure-8 bridle.

netg
Apr. 5, 2011, 02:53 PM
He's not yet using his body as well as you'd like. With only 5 months with a trainer who has really helped you out, that's not surprising.

I would work on lateral work and controlling his body however you want. See the thread about flat work for jumpers on this page of the forum and check out the article - straightness will be a big part of it. But strength to hold himself will help, too. This is probably a horse who has a naturally better canter? The trot's the gait you can work on the most... but that means if it's naturally the weakest, it's the gait which will take longest to come together. Trotting ground poles, trotting gymnastics, a lot of correct (or extra steep) leg yielding, and start introducing shoulder fore/shoulder in if you haven't yet. The topline helps them, but he needs to develop pushing power from behind to help carry himself, too. Until he's pushing into your hands from behind he'll have trouble getting steady in your contact. A lot of change of pace helps, too - lengthen, shorten, speed your rhythm, slow your rhythm. And for whatever reason, canter/walk/canter transitions help my horse keep contact at the trot. (The reverse applies, too - trot work improves our canter work.)

JumpingForJoy
Apr. 5, 2011, 11:38 PM
Thanks netg - it is really nice to hear that it is mainly a fitness thing because I was concerned I might be allowing a bad habit to develop. I'll continue working on the flatwork and stay patient!

I'll also check out the thread - thanks again!

naturalequus
Apr. 6, 2011, 12:02 AM
What netg said, including tons of hills and poles/low cavelleti to develop that strength and pushing power!

ClaireCaipirosco
Apr. 6, 2011, 12:22 AM
If it helps, I find the more supple my horse is, the better he is at keeping on the bit. I'll bend him for a few strides, then straighten him, then counter-bend, then straighten, and so on until he's really nice and supple. My horse also doesn't keep on the bit unless he's given 100% direct contact to keep him connected with me.

naturalequus
Apr. 6, 2011, 01:58 AM
If it helps, I find the more supple my horse is, the better he is at keeping on the bit. I'll bend him for a few strides, then straighten him, then counter-bend, then straighten, and so on until he's really nice and supple. My horse also doesn't keep on the bit unless he's given 100% direct contact to keep him connected with me.

Yes! Training Scale! Relaxation and suppleness will = on the bit (in this case, and as a progression of the TS). This is partially why circular exercises and patterns can really help (furthermore, they encourage the horse to engage to balance). You HAVE to have that suppleness, and he is not supple if he is above the bit and hollow. That said, he is likely doing so due to a lack of strength at this point, so while also focusing on the Training Scale, also really focus on general strengthening work.

ponymom64
Apr. 6, 2011, 10:43 AM
Our young horse used to do this as well - it can sometimes be an avoidance issue in addition to fitness, etc. He when raises his head, try raising your hands so that they are level with his mouth, so there is no change in contact, close your leg and ride forward at the trot. Once he gives in and lowers his head, lower your hands to their normal position, while continuing to ride forward into the bridle.

JumpingForJoy
Apr. 7, 2011, 02:20 AM
All great information - thank you again!

englishivy
Apr. 7, 2011, 08:38 AM
I agree with all the above.

But to think outside the box:


The horse uses it's neck for balance; it goes up and down at the walk and canter, and slightly left to right at the trot.......maybe you follow and maintain contact better with the up and down motion (aka the walk & canter)?