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the lengthenings at first level

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  • the lengthenings at first level

    Being relatively new to dressage, I would like to understand a bit more what is expected in first level tests for lengthening of stride. I have a trainer I am working with, but we haven't started this yet, but I'm curious so I thought I'd post something on COTH.

    In scribing, I've seen judges comment that the horse either didn't show lengthening or simply went faster.

    How does one physically achieve lengthening without going faster?

  • #2
    The best way to understand what they judge is looking for is to read the directives in the test. In first level test one the directive states "Moderate lengthening of frame and stride; quality and consistent tempo of trot; willing, balanced transitions; straightness."

    So basically the judge is looking for a larger, more ground covering step in comparison to the working trot. If the horse is properly balances on the hind end this means that they will push off, swinging through the back, and will increase air time slightly, taking a larger step. The neck will lengthen slightly but ideallythe contact should remain light and steady, the horse should not fall on his forehand and lean on the rein. This is usually the most challenging part in the beginning, especially on a horse who has a shorter stride. Quickness comes when the horse takes short, fast steps and doesn't actually increase the ground cover of the stride.

    This is a good explanation of what the lengthening of stride should be and how to achieve it:

    http://janesavoie.wordpress.com/2009...t-first-level/

    Comment


    • #3
      The two key factors judges want to see in first level lengthening are in the directives: (1) moderate lengthening of frame & stride and (2) quality and consistent tempo....so when riding a test show some difference in length of stride and do not allow (or ask) the horse to quicken its tempo. What the directives don't say, but the judges will is: don't allow the horse to be so strung out in the lengthening that they fall on the forehand. So...moderate lengthening of frame as compared to the working gaits, consistent tempo and maintain balance.

      If you are just starting to school lengthenings begin with just a few steps and come back to working gaits before a loss of balance. For a green horse/rider it's best if you don't introduce lengthenings all of the way down the long side or across a full diagonal. Some horses also have an easier time maintaining balance while learning lengthenings on a slight curve or with circles at either end of the lengthening....circle, lengthen a few strides then back into circle to help maintain balance.

      Have fun with it!

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        ^^^Thanks for the reply and the link to a great article!! That makes a whole lot more sense now.

        Comment


        • #5
          If you are just starting to school lengthenings begin with just a few steps and come back to working gaits before a loss of balance. For a green horse/rider it's best if you don't introduce lengthenings all of the way down the long side or across a full diagonal.
          This is great advice. Once the horse can do short sets of several balanced steps I like to go around the ring and transition back and forth from working trot to lengthening in longer intervals using the letters as references (this also works for collected trot to medium trot or collected to extended as you develop the horse). For example, working trot from H to E, then lengthen from E to K, working trot around short side from K to F, lengthen from F to B, etc.

          Comment


          • #6
            We're working on this now, with a mare who definitely can get quick. I do a LOT of lengthen 3-4 strides, come back, lengthen 3-4 strides, come back. For her, good aids seem to be to put my hands forward about an inch and bring my legs forward slightly but do not squeeze with them. I mostly work in posting trot, for both our sakes. It's a work in progress, though my trainer rode her at First Level at a schooling show recently and they did very well on one of the lengthenings across the diagonal. The second one, mare was a bit tired and she got rushy.
            You have to have experiences to gain experience.

            1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

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            • #7
              one achieves lengthenings without going faster by systematic work. Specifically the horse needs to learn
              a) to be forward
              b) to bend
              c) to connect itself
              d) to work in a very even rhythm.
              e) to engage the hind legs

              once the horse can go in a normal trot, engaged (to the degree of training) bent, connected and in a steady rhythm, then you start adding a few steps of *more* - you ask the horse to add a bit of activity and energy - at first the horse might break into canter, rush etc... but with correct work those few steps will be built upon to eventually show a full diagonal of lengthening.

              so the answer is: step by step using the systematic training to teach what you want

              as a real life example: my 4 yo is working on a few steps of lengthenings now...
              Last edited by mbm; Aug. 26, 2012, 04:00 PM. Reason: spell check does not understand dressage terminology!

              Comment


              • #8
                As you move through the tests at first level (1-3) you will find that judges begin to consider 'balance' as part of criteria. The lengthenings at test one will not be judge exactly the same way as they will in test three. The balance that you want to show is level to moving towards uphill. The mistakes I have made most often have been not getting straight out of the corner and throwing the connection away (getting in a hurry on the 2nd Lengthing). Not getting straight will almost invariably lead to rhythm faults/loss of balance/breaking to canter. SO keep in mind come out of the corner--straighten-then ask for a few steps lengthening....do not ask for more than your horse can show. As far as throwing the connection away--giving away the connection lends itself to the horse flattening rather striving towards more level-uphill balance--thrusting from behind, coming up in the forehand. It takes time to develop the lengthenings (depending on your horses natural abilities)--I think its better to always think of them as a work in progress.

                It has been really helpful with my guy to train the lengthenings on a 20m circle rather than on straight lines. Half the circle lengthen--then come back-repeat. Another exersize that might be useful is SI-to trot lengthen on a half circle, or short diagonal. Straightness should always be somewhere in the back of your mind--are we straight? Check, Lengthen--5-6 steps and back.

                We found the canter lengthenings much easier to develop--we knew we were doing it right when his balance would shift to more uphill and you could feel him coming up through the wither.
                Redbud Ranch
                Check us out on FB

                Comment


                • #9
                  A lot of people also put the cart before the horse as they dont know what a working trot is. I see a lot of people in medium trot (maybe not a good medium) instead of a working trot - and a medium is more lengthened. So if you are riding your working too big - its hard to show A DIFFERENCE in your lengthened.

                  I was sitting with a judge - I always volunteer to scribe at rec shows - its so fun and I learn so much. SHHH dont tell anyone because everyone will want to do it.

                  But they want to see a DIFFERENCE. So its also important you know what a working trot is. And I see riders shorten their horses up a little before the extending part - sometimes a judge notes - "small steps" - and they might lose .5 there - but sometimes they dont shorten too much - and it shows more clearer difference. You dont want to SHORTEN and then LENGTHEN and get a grade on difference - I think its more about being CLEAR.

                  Am I confusing you?

                  And ditto what others said - you will go 'faster' in the sense you will cover more ground but because your pace is the same, the stride is just bigger. But it should not be hurried - your horse shoulder be relaxed through the back.

                  Remember its to show advancement from training to second level so its not an extended trot - you are showing the horse is starting to extend so - show difference - keep the relaxation - keep the pace - cover more ground.
                  Last edited by LaraNSpeedy; Aug. 26, 2012, 04:00 PM. Reason: to make clearer

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgHlxR5Sb4U&feature=plcp

                    From the USDF

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There is a good article in the new September Practical Horseman.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by LaraNSpeedy View Post
                        A lot of people also put the cart before the horse as they dont know what a working trot is. I see a lot of people in medium trot (maybe not a good medium) instead of a working trot - and a medium is more lengthened. So if you are riding your working too big - its hard to show A DIFFERENCE in your lengthened.

                        I was sitting with a judge - I always volunteer to scribe at rec shows - its so fun and I learn so much. SHHH dont tell anyone because everyone will want to do it.

                        But they want to see a DIFFERENCE. So its also important you know what a working trot is. And I see riders shorten their horses up a little before the extending part - sometimes a judge notes - "small steps" - and they might lose .5 there - but sometimes they dont shorten too much - and it shows more clearer difference. You dont want to SHORTEN and then LENGTHEN and get a grade on difference - I think its more about being CLEAR.
                        I am not sure i agree with this...... a working trot should be the horses natural forward trot. A medium trot is only possible once collection starts....

                        a working trot needs to be active and forward... it needs to look like it is going places not dinking along. only once the horse is able to engage a bit behind and is in balance etc then it can lengthen the strides a bit.

                        and of course when you go into a corner you are supposed to use that corner to collect the horse a bit so as to rock the the horse back on its haunch for a better diagonal.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think remembering that it is a lengthening and not an extension or medium is very important. My horse gets a significant change in stride length/big overstep well before he starts getting air time and a fancy looking trot, and his strength is really in collection rather than extension.

                          It was from doing shoulder in->straight->lengthen that he started getting a lengthening which is more like a medium or extension rather than just a first level lengthening, but that definitely took a lot of time and strength to collect so he could really do it. He's now more at the 7.5/8 level in scoring when he lengthens, but it took patience.
                          http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7227/7...a69f071612.jpg
                          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.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What has helped my students is to understand to create (or make sure you have) the energy for the lengthen first, then simply allow and maintain the lengthen. Have the horse politely wanting to go more forward than you are letting it in working trot, and then just allow the longer frame, and you will have the lengthen trot.

                            When ready to go back to working, push the horse back together with leg into a shorter contact and you have the working trot back.

                            Problems seem to come the most when the rider allows the horse to cruise around at working trot, then try to kick them forward into the lengthen...but that is when the horse gets quick and often the head comes up and the back gets hollow.
                            Last edited by CHT; Aug. 26, 2012, 11:36 PM.
                            Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mbm View Post
                              a working trot needs to be active and forward... it needs to look like it is going places not dinking along. only once the horse is able to engage a bit behind and is in balance etc then it can lengthen the strides a bit.
                              .
                              just my 2small cents--but I think it depends a little bit on the horse--early on my guy needed to slow down the tempo in order to develop a longer more reaching stride/more swinging back. Once that relaxation/rhythm was established the activity/engagement/impulsion and lengthening came shortly after and without much effort on my part. Also schooling a correct leg yield was surprisingly useful for improving his uphill balance which also helped the lengthening's a lot.
                              Redbud Ranch
                              Check us out on FB

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                forward/active does not equal faster steps..... it means more energy

                                agree that sometimes the tempo needs to slow down...

                                also agree with the above poster who said that you want to feel like you are allowing the lengthening, not kicking on for it - that is part of them being forward enough... and forward is like love - you can never have enough

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  "forward is like love - you can never have enough "


                                  Last time I scribed I think I wrote "needs more forward" more times than I could count.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by mbm View Post
                                    also agree with the above poster who said that you want to feel like you are allowing the lengthening, not kicking on for it - that is part of them being forward enough... and forward is like love - you can never have enough

                                    I love this!


                                    And yep - a lengthening is allowing, not pushing, or you won't get it.
                                    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.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by SnicklefritzG View Post
                                      "forward is like love - you can never have enough "
                                      Can I steal this?
                                      Hoppe, Hoppe, Reiter...
                                      Wenn er faellt dann schreit er...

                                      Originally posted by mbm
                                      forward is like love - you can never have enough

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Reiter View Post
                                        Can I steal this?
                                        sure !

                                        eta: but if you quote who it is from - that would be moi, not snicklefritiz

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