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Tips for Developing Lenghtenings

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  • Tips for Developing Lenghtenings

    What are your favorite exercises to help develop the push/thrust needed for a good lengthening? This is the one movement that is causing us the most trouble in our First level dressage tests!

  • #2
    A good lengthening comes from collection.

    Get a good shoulder-in going.
    It is best to come out of the short side into a 10m circle, do a few steps of shoulder-in, circle again, a few more steps of shoulder-in...
    ...rather than trying to keep a half long side going all the way to B or the length of the arena.
    You want the shoulder-in to be a few steps of POW! POW! POW! rather than a long side worth of petering out.

    Also practice some half steps on a twenty meter circle. Three or four steps of deepening the connection into the hand and then 10 steps of letting him out a little.

    Also, on the 20m canter circle, do 10m circles at B and E and then maintain the 10m circle canter on the 20m half circle.

    When this is all easy, you can throw in some lengthenings.

    Come around the short side and do a few half steps by C.
    Out of the corner into a few steps of shoulder-in to H.
    At H turn onto the SHORT diagonal, get the horse straight, and then lengthen to B.

    At E you can do you 20m canter circle with the 10m circle to get him organized and light underneath you again more easily that wrestling with a horse that just greenie-lengthened at the trot.

    These sorts of quick transitions that go snap snap snap also develop the attentiveness, responsiveness and fluidity of connection in the horse.
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    • #3
      Posting trot across the diagonal, at X start leg yielding until you get to the letter in the corner.

      on a 20m circle, practice working on the cadence going between small steps and bigger steps.
      "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
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      • #4
        The suggestions above are good training exercises. But often it is not the lack of training, strength or balance that causes problems in the lengthenings. Sometimes it is just common rider errors or lack of technique. A few random things that I have found help.

        1. In the beginning, look for one or two correct lengthened strides only, and then build on that. Otherwise, the horse may fall on his forehand and trail his hind legs out behind and that can become a habit. Make sure that you do not throw the contact away, and that you do not ask the horse to go faster in his tempo.

        2. If the horse is breaking to the canter, make sure that your horse is very clear in understanding your aids. It can be helpful to teach the horse with oral commands (clucking for the trot and a kissing sound for the canter) so that the horse clearly understands that you want more trot, not a canter depart. You can associate that oral command with a pattern of leg and seat aids which will then become the cue for a lengthening.

        3. Prepare for the lengthening. If you prepare for the lengthening by getting a lot of energy going from the haunches and recycling it back to the haunches by using the corner and your half halt, then the lengthening will develop by itself just by relaxing the reins coming out of the corner.

        4. Keep your own balance! It is hard for the horse to keep his back up and keep his balance toward the hindquarters in the lengthened stride if you are using the reins for balance or are leaning forward or back in the saddle. Stay even and balanced on your seat bones. In the beginning, you may want to POST to the trot since the horse's stride may not be regular, and it could throw you around, which will interfere with him and it all comes apart. He needs to trust that you wont interfere with your hands or seat.

        Hope this helps.
        "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


        • #5
          Just be sure you aren't blocking the horse or over driving. You want to build the energy and then allow it to go forward and out. You allow the back to come up and grow in the movement. Don't ever chase.

          One interesting thing you can try is to loosen your thighs a bit to allow the horse to feel like he/she can really bring their back up. Sometimes, in the beginning , riders grab too much while just driving harder. If instead, you build the energy and then make sure you've really opened the door with your entire body to let them feel free to move, you can get a much bigger reaction.

          Always remember to teach it from the posting trot first. This way you can allow for the back more easily AND you can adjust the tempo by how quickly or slowly you post--to help them realize you want a bigger stride and not a fast trot or a canter.
          "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"


          • #6
            Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
            A good lengthening comes from collection.
            These sorts of quick transitions that go snap snap snap also develop the attentiveness, responsiveness and fluidity of connection in the horse.
            As stated above - Collection is the key - so since you're showing first you're schooling second or above and working on collection the more TRUE collection / self-carriage in the horse you develop the better the carrying power/lengthening will be.

            The exercises discussed above are good one - SI to lengtheniong across the short diagnol are excellent IF done correctly.
            Now in Kentucky


            • #7
              Originally posted by Valentina_32926 View Post
              SI to lengtheniong across the short diagnol are excellent IF done correctly.
              Absolutely a good exercise, once the horse has an idea of how to lengthen and shorten his frame. This is not necessarily the right thing to use when first teaching a young horse how to lengthen his stride--rather than working toward having a more mature horse work on finding his medium trot.

              I guess we need a bit more info from the OP on what they know, and what the horse already does or does not know. She might not even be able to perform a shoulder fore, let alone a shoulder in.
              "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"


              • #8
                Use the wall at first instead of the diagonal line to help with balance. Also forward and back on a 20m circle to teach the correct response to driving and collecting aids.


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Velvet View Post
                  I guess we need a bit more info from the OP on what they know, and what the horse already does or does not know. She might not even be able to perform a shoulder fore, let alone a shoulder in.
                  Thank you everyone for your very helpful replies. My horse is 5 and in his first year of showing scored consistently in the upper 60's at Training Level and in the low 60s in our first attempts at First Level. Shoulder fore is confirmed...working to get a more consistent SI.


                  • #10
                    I've had good results working towards it from the canter. Getting a well balanced canter then keeping that balance coming out of the short side and down transitioning to trot properly is key. Sustain the canter energy into the trot. Trainer called it celebrating the trot. Helps the horse learn about lengthening without the rider pushing and the length of the long side keeps it short and sweet.


                    • #11
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                      • #12
                        extended trot comes from a collected trot.
                        lengthening comes from a working trot.

                        I find lengthening of the trot to be more of an obedience exercise. Kind of like the stretch circle. Most people fail to let the horse's frame lengthen in the lengthen.

                        My horse was taught to lengthen out of a traverse.

                        It's odd but it works like a charm. And it makes that first step off look nice a big to the judges eye. lol.
                        Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                        • #13
                          There was an image in DT some time ago, that was perhaps more apt for extensions, but works for lengthenings, too.

                          When asking for a lengthening, think of the horse as though he were an airplane taking off on a runway. You should feel his hind end sink and his front end lift as he is reaching for the longer stride, as though he were going to take off into the air.

                          You don't want to feel the horse going down in front, or rump up behind the saddle nor getting longer through his whole body.
                          "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller