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Extensions 101

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  • Extensions 101

    How do YOU receive your finest trot extensions? I know it's difficult to be succinct, but would love to hear from some folks.

    ETA: Perhaps "achieve" would be more appropriate than receive...?

  • #2
    I'm looking forward to other responses. I'm only just learning, as it's never been a possibility for me with other horses!

    What I have learned is they will not happen if my horse is not forward thinking, in front of my leg, and I'm not doing my part to contribute to balance. What I am still trying to learn is not throwing away my reins which causes us to lose the balance I'm supposed to be helping us have.
    Originally posted by Silverbridge
    If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.


    • #3
      My horse doesn't have great extensions (6 on a good day) so I have to eke out every bit of lengthening that I can out of her.

      What helps us is to
      1. be slightly shoulder-fore on the short wall to get her hind driving up and under
      2. GET STRAIGHT!
      3. build the extension slowly - don't just hit the gas...and think about bringing the hindlegs under, rather than allowing the front to lengthen (note: I do allow the frame to lengthen a bit - but thinking of it this way keeps me from throwing her away.)


      • #4
        For DD's schoolmaster it's sit back, make sure pony is really under you (walk trot transitions will work for that) leg slightly back like you are requesting a canter and then hold with your hands. Moving you hands forward that first stride will end up with a strung out canter. He has a HUGE stride for a 12hh pony and he's welsh so the trot is his gimme gait. She can get 3 or 4 strides of the extended trot before she hits the corner and we haven't mastered that yet. Now teaching extensions (shrug) not a clue there, we're so thankful to have a pony with the maneuvers already installed.
        Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
        Originally Posted by alicen:
        What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.


        • #5
          As it happens in most tests:

          X: halt, salute. Square. Prompt depart from halt.

          X-C: Collected (or working) trot. Bungee the trot down the centerline-- can you compress/lengthen one stride? How adjustable is your trot? This, by the way, doesn't mean that you have to go from extensions to piaffe (especially in a test) but at all times it should feel like you can. Clear as mud, right?

          C: track L/R. Achieve bend through the body, not just through the neck/poll. Make sure not to "leave" the shoulders plastered to the wall. As previous posters noted, straightness is key.

          C-M/H: See above. Also add activity in the hind legs by hints of forward/back steps. This one's generally tough to accomplish without disturbing the tempo, but strive to keep the tempo the same.

          H/M: CLEAR transition from collected to medium/extension. The first stride doesn't have to be the maximum extension, but it does have to be a clear difference from the previous trot. Build the extension across the diagonal, but don't push so hard that the horse breaks gait/falls on forehand, or otherwise loses balance. If you feel the balance shift forward, halfhalt for a stride and ask again. Most importantly, as a rider: do not lean back behind the vertical. Engage your back and abs and wrap your legs around your horse.

          X: Assess extension. Is it springing off the ground or falling on the forehand? Generally the first "burst" of extension will begin to fade here. Ask again for extension once the balance is restored (if it has been lost).

          Quarterline past X: Do not allow the extension to putter out and fade away. May require another hint of forward/back to keep the quality of extension

          2 strides before F/K (less if you've got better balance): "bounce" the forward motion into upward motion as you halfhalt with your back/abs. Again don't lean back. Extensions should add energy to the collected trot. Careful not to go too crazy and get passagey trot as a result. Es no bueno.

          Corner after F/K: slight forward/back feel in the trot again to make sure you still have the adjustability you need for the next movement.

          Generally speaking the quality of the trot before the extension dictates how good your extensions will be. I'm not saying that if your horse can't trot like Totilas that you're hosed, but if your trot feels like you're stuck in one gear it's worth taking a hit on accuracy in the test (e.g. start your extension a stride or two past C/M) to fix the trot.

          And that's my cookbook for 8s.


          • #6
            1. Rubber-band exercise on a 20m circle. I start with collected trot half way around the circle and medium the other half. Horse has to be sharp off the aids, and sitting when he comes back.

            2. If that's good, I go down the long wall doing 3 mediums (for a few strides each) with nice collected trot in between. Ocassionally, I'll throw a few piaffe steps or passage steps in between the mediums.

            3. If that's good, head for the diagonal like it is in the test- thinking about shoulder-fore into the corner, coil the springs in the hind legs in the corner, and get very straight on the diagonal- with the horse waiting for the aid- not taking over.

            If the balance is solid and the energy is there- all I do is allow the extension to happen. I just relax and follow- if I go adding leg or relaxing my hands all I accomplish is changing the balance.


            • #7
              before you can extend (or lengthen) you need to have (more or less) collection (ie coiled spring) ...

              the more correct the foundation work, the better the ability of the horse to channel the energy into forward and upward.

              to get there takes time and correct work! (sorry no simple answer)


              • Original Poster

                Thank you for the responses - I have my work cut out for me!

                I appreciate the time you all took to help :-)


                • Original Poster

                  Oh, and my favorite new line when I mess up will now be, " es no bueno." Ha!