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Extended trot- behind the vertical

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  • Extended trot- behind the vertical

    My 8 yo TB gelding ( I event ) is a lovely mover. He's willing to work and he takes a wonderful elastic contact that gives me a satisfying "solid" feel in both reins. I'm working on improving my extended trot. As I add leg and increase my rein contact he goes behind the vertical. I still have a full, heavier contact in my hand, but how do I keep him from getting behind the vertical? I ride him in a loose ring snaffle. Thanks!

  • #2
    Don't get heavier in your hands. Think "up and out" and he should sit and engage behind, and seem to "climb" up front, but you should not need more hand.

    It could just be weakness, and he is diving up front because he's not strong enough yet. Hard to say.


    • #3
      Sounds to me like he's not ready for lengthings yet...not strong enough over the back yet.

      You might want to do more work on trot/canter transitions and make sure you're not getting a "behind the vertical" response in the first few strides, before you start to ask for lengthings.

      Until he's working up and through the bridle/hands in these transitions -- over his back, very easily and consistently - I wouldn't bother trying for lengthenings with the feeling/response you are getting.

      They tell you when they are not ready. They will also tell you when they are...two steps forward, one step back...

      There are certainly many here with vast experience...Ideayoda, would be ideal to answer your question.
      www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
      "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
      Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


      • #4
        Half halt!

        For eventing do you mean trot lengthening or a true extended trot?

        Why the increased rein to full heavier contact? Keep him open, up, and light. Half halt, release. Ride uphill - the horse's nose needs to point to where the horse is extending to. Half halt, release. If you are increasing the contact and the horse is curling behind the vertical, it sounds like your hand is restricting him and you are riding him downhill into the ground. You may also be leaning back behind the motion and digging in with a driving seat. IF you are talking true extended trot, it will feel like an air plane taking off.

        He needs to be able to collect to be able to extend. Ride forward and back with in gaits (extension, collection). Rock back into collected trot, spring forward to extended trot. Collected trot, extended trot. Several steps of each. Like a coiled spring, and then a sprung spring.


        • #5
          Fantastic...let me ask you this. If the horse hasn't been trained to the half-halt at the trot, why would one suggest cantering and presenting it at that point.

          I DO see you're point, but I suspect by what the OP is saying he has not master the hh at the trot, much less the canter.

          If the horse is bracing, then getting behind the vertical at the canter, it would seem to me more trot/canter transitions are in order, provided the hh has already been mastered at the trot.

          I don't see him mention it at all...so very good point. Plus we're talking about a TB which is more likely to "curl" (i.e. get behind the vertical when you push from behind and hold the fore). The breed is an inbred powerhouse, but notriously weak over the top line and can quite easily fake a rider out by their power and forward-thinking notions alone, as "elevation" from the front is hard for them without judicious gymnastics to develop it. Not sure I'm articulating this well...
          www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
          "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
          Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


          • #6
            I'm missing the part about cantering. ? I know what you're saying, but we were talking about troting. I do agree, however, about what you are saying about cantering, improving canter trans, etc.


            • #7
              When do you get a lengthening? I have a youngster who is doing a super counter canter but is not strong enough yet to show a lengthening. He tries.


              • #8
                My mistake. I jumped ahead of myself. I've been working with a youngster for the last 3 days (having a blast) so my mind morphed to the OP's situation. How narcissistic of me...

                I guess I can't understand why one would ask for a lengthening (in the truest sense), unless you have a good working trot, good half halts, good transitions to the canter, yada, yada.

                Fantastic, indeed, talk to the OP about half halts. IME, I wouldn't attempt lengtheings without having mastered the trot/canter transitions. Doing so prematurely, often teaches them to just rush and fall onto the forehand (and in the case of TB's to "curl"...get behind the bit). And that's a hard habit to break.
                www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                • #9
                  Originally posted by sid View Post
                  I guess I can't understand why one would ask for a lengthening (in the truest sense), unless you have a good working trot, good half halts, good transitions to the canter, yada, yada.

                  Fantastic, indeed, talk to the OP about half halts. IME, I wouldn't attempt lengtheings without having mastered the trot/canter transitions. Doing so prematurely, often teaches them to just rush and fall onto the forehand (and in the case of TB's to "curl"...get behind the bit). And that's a hard habit to break.

                  But where do you see anything that suggests that the OP's horse doesn't have good half halts or transitions to the canter??

                  To the OP, it sounds like a strength issue to me. Lots of transitions within the trot, and trot/walk/trot, ridden correctly from behind, will strengthen your horse's topline to allow him to carry himself properly with the increased thrust of the lengthenings.


                  • #10
                    Sid, that's funny! I occassionally morph, myself!

                    Since the OP didn't post the level of eventing or any other details, we can only assume that they have a h/h's, a good working trot, and good canter, trot, canter trans.

                    Doing so prematurely, often teaches them to just rush and fall onto the forehand (and in the case of TB's to "curl"...get behind the bit). And that's a hard habit to break.
                    Absolutely - good point! Don't want to ruin the horse with teaching it to curl; diving onto the forehand. Horses that are taught to not trust the riders hands are not happy campers. When the horse is ridden front to back and learns to curl, the average rider can't correct it since it seems like they often don't understand what it was that caused the horse go there in the first place.


                    • #11
                      the average rider can't correct it since it seems like they often don't understand what it was that caused the horse go there in the first place
                      Sorry! That didn't come out right! Hopefully you know what I mean! What I meant to say was:

                      It's a hard habit to break; don't even go there!


                      • #12
                        It sounds like the OP has a misunderstanding about the aids:

                        "As I add leg and increase my rein contact he goes behind the vertical"

                        I would expect a horse to go BTV if I did that. And I don't think it has anything to do w/being a TB

                        Fantastic's advice was perfect, no need to type any further

                        "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                        • #13
                          Gosh, thanks EqTrainer! Where's the blushing emotocon?


                          • #14
                            "As I add leg and increase my rein contact he goes behind the vertical"
                            You should be opening up your hand, not increasing rein contact when you ask for the extended trot.

                            Along with asking with your leg and seat.


                            • #15
                              i would say first - the hand needs to go forward (i personally would not open my hand) - but not allow the horse to go splat on its face (so you may need to do baby steps and do only a few steps of lengthening and build from there) .

                              a lengthening is about the horse opening it's stride and "frame" which it can not do if you are pulling and or shortening its neck.

                              so, as has been told to me more times that i can count "give, and give again"


                              • #16
                                Extended trot is for higher levels. Are you ready for it? How are the mediums? How are the lengthenings? (Walk trot and canter so plural).

                                Half halts that worked at lesser work aren't usually sufficient at first efforts in training the extended trot. 'Good half halts' is very, very very relative.

                                What sid said is a legitimate statement. You can have very nice half halts during other work and be saying 'oh my goodness, suddenly i have no half halt' when attempting to lengthen, medium or extended trot in training.

                                Too, do you know extended trots and the horse doesn't? Or does he already know it?

                                A good extended trot is better than a million dollars, a ferrari, sex and illicit drugs all at once. It feels like, especially at first, like you are trying to hit a million tennis balls back over the net all at once, you have the horse's back kicking you in the ass, and a ton in your hands, and you're saying oh my goodness, what do i do. It is not a slightly faster or slightly longer strided trot. It's...it's unbelievably powerful, and at the start, the horse does quite often feel very hard in the hand, like ti is attempting to make a nose dive, and it's VERY hard to teach a horse. You should expect and accept some imperfect moments. How MANY imperfect moments to expect and what comprises staying on track toward eventual good work is something a trainer needs to be there to make sure you're doing.

                                It just isn't something you just 'ask for'....one has to ride it very skillfully and it's awful hard to keep everything balanced, supple and correct. In a way it's just about very basic ridng, and only very basic things go wrong during it. Not that that makes it easy. One has to be very ready just at the moment one tries it too; it helps to prepare with active working gaits, then coming back and going forward after some suppleness has been established.

                                'who even said the girls half halts weren't good'

                                half halts can be LOVELY in the previous work and you can come into doing extended trot and hit a brick wall, literally. having good half halts in the othe work says very little about if they will be sufficient during extended trot work.

                                'give give give'.

                                Don't don't don't. Your horse will wind up on the forehand kicking himself in the front feet.

                                'It should be light'. It should be just dreamy, perfect, from first attempt.


                                It might be light someday, but expecting perfection from the first attempt is unrealistic. Don't put that pressure on yourself or your horse. When you and he are learning it's going to look and feel like you're learning. The only important thing is to make a few steps in the right direction. Tomorrow is another day.

                                'You should not have more contact'.

                                Not really. But how is the contact created? Not by shortening the reins, but because the horse is pushing so much impulsion to the bit. Eventually, his throat angle will open, but he should never be going with a suddenly much longer lower flatter neck. A horse cannot do an extended trot in the position of a western pleasure or road hack.

                                The extended trot is very, very different from other stronger trots in other riding styles, because it contains so much collection in it. The neck NEVER can lower and straighten out flat - the horse could never balance. Collection is maintained during the extended trot, the neck can hardly lower much, rather it just 'opens' a bit, and the horse's throat angle just opens so his nose is poked a little more forward, when he is able.

                                'When he is able' is important. A trainer needs to be there to help you - I assume from your question you don't know how to correct the behind the vertical position, so asking the questions means you need a trainer there to help.

                                It's debatable if 'behind the vertical' is really a problem at the early stages(to a point). It depends on how much it is, and what else is going on. If the horse is still rather stiff in the poll there may not be any other position in which he can push more impulsion to the bit, but it also might be wise to wait on it til the stiffness in the poll is improved by otehr transitions and suppling work.

                                In every ride, your work should be 'building' toward a kind of crescendo, so that you feel at some point during the ride, it's time to try the extended trot - suppleness exercises, lateral work, canter work, getting more and more on the bit, then it's time to try the extended trot in this particular ride - one really has to have a very airtight plan.

                                How are you attempting to do the extended trot? On the long diagonal? Then you need to not do that. Get on a circle, try 2-3 steps from shoulder in, try the short diagonal LATER, THEN the long diagonal.

                                The moral of the story is 'consult with your trainer'. The basic issue is always 1.) has the basic preparatory work been done to sufficient quality over the previous months to warrant working on extended trot (ie what is the quality of the half halts, mediums and lengthenings) 2.) if that all checks out, is the horse properly prepared by suppling and back and forth work right in that particular ride, and if yes, 3.) is your rein length correct and if yes, 4.) are you helping the horse sufficiently during the extended trot by not letting the reins out too much, by NOT putting your handws forward too much(maintaining the balance) and yet doing so just enough to let him move forward and push a lot of impulsion to the bit.

                                I will get blasted for writing this, but many horses simply cannot do an extended trot. It's good to have someone there who can help you decide what's reasonable to expect from your horse. MOST horses will not have an extended trot, and will do a slightlty stronger medium trot - if the rest of the test is good, you can still get a lot of ribbons that way.
                                Last edited by slc2; Jul. 19, 2009, 06:36 AM.


                                • #17
                                  Are you working on extended trot or lengthening the trot (in dressage, we don't see extended trot until 3rd level, lengthening at 1st level, medium trot at 2nd level).

                                  I am going to guess you are actually working on trot lengthening, the percursor to medium and extended trot.

                                  I'd start by working your horse on a 20 meter circle - pick up a nice, balanced working trot. Staying on the circle, ask for just a big more trot for 1/4 of the circle, then ask your horse to come back to his nice, balanced working trot. You can have 4 different sessions on the circle, 2 at lengthened trot, 2 at working trot. When he becomes balanced and light, then you are ready to face the straight line While working the circle, realize that the trot lengthening is achieved NOT by grabbing his face (tightening the reins), but by increasing the pattern of your hips to encourage him to move bigger. AND - very important - DO NOT LET YOURSELF get behind the vertical. Stay on top of his movement - if you lean back, you will drive HIS back down, which will make him harder in the hand.

                                  If you are working in the posting trot, increase the forward phase of your post (in reality, you are increasing the forward and back, but don't emphasize the back so much that you slam HIS back when you come down).

                                  Don't try to do an entire long diagonal - he probably isn't ready for it yet. When you do venture to the "straight line", do a short diagonal or part of the long side, using the shoulder fore position to balance.

                                  www.MysticOakRanch.com Friesian/Warmblood Crosses, the Ultimate Sporthorse
                                  Director, WTF Registry


                                  • #18
                                    I agree that it won't be perfect and that the *horse* may increase the contact as he figures out how to do what you are asking... what I took exception to was the rider saying she "adds leg and increases the rein contact". I think that is probably another way to say I pull back and kick and let's face it, a lot of people think that is how you get a horse to lengthen stride or to extend. There is an "entire kick and pull" school of thinking out there. Luckily people post here and get the opportunity to find out that it's not how you teach a horse to lengthen

                                    I also agree w/slc that many horses have no extension in them at all.
                                    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                                      I also agree w/slc that many horses have no extension in them at all.

                                      I disagree. Many horses have no natural lengthenings, but the extended trot is borne out of the collected trot. And when there is really true correct collection, the extended trot will be there on almost any type of horse.


                                      • #20
                                        The last thing you want in lengthens is a stronger hand. You have to soften your hand to allow the horse to make his stride longer, a restrictive hand will only lead to a horse that rushes and runs instead of truly lengthening his stride. In order for the legs to reach, the horse needs to be soft and stretching through his topline. Half halt and then soften and ride forward out of the half halt, an you will get the elevation. But if you do not soften your hand, the horse will never carry himself and will never be soft and elevated.

                                        I do a mini version of that with my young horse. He can get deep in the trot, he doesnt always volunteer hind end engagement. So I ask him to almost walk, to sit him on his ass, and ride forward out of that while softening, and he lifts right up and does a lovely working trot. I have to do that every so often just to keep him pushing. But thats how you should ride a lengthen, sit the horse down and then soften and ride forward, and they will take long strides and lift up their front ends.