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Pics of a Balanced Trot

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  • Pics of a Balanced Trot

    I think maybe you guys can help me the best. I'm a h/j, but I do believe in teaching my horses to become balanced and light - which I think has helped them so much. Lately I've been looking at a lot of pictures of horses supposely "round," "on the bit" and "going forward" but to me most of them look like the are on the forehand and the riders have just forced the horses head down, then again riders who have got the horses head down, but the horse isn't engaged. But then when I look at others the horse seems to be going forward & balanced, but the head is up (I have a few of these I believe on my greenie who is still getting the hang of it)

    When looking at a picture, what do you look for in a properly round and balanced horse? and even some who are learning the basics and inbetweens. If anyone has some pics that show do's and don'ts that would be great!

    Thanks so much

  • #2
    A balanced trot is uphill, not on the forehand. Imagine the rider would let the horse take off completely free from the confinement of the aids but keeping the same balance - which way would the horse go? Upwards, straight forwards - or plow into the ground?

    Some fairly balanced trots to me:


    ..ending up in a balanced piaffe (different horses, same website though):

    To be balanced, the horse needs to be round - not to be confused with being put on the bit, or into a frame, or a headset. Round means the energy created by the hindquarters will be used to raise the withers and push the ears forwards without the horse ever coming behind the vertical, which would require tension. Look at the withers - not the loin area behind the saddle. Incorrect training will push the loin area upwards, stiffening the back, while the horse hollows and keeps the withers down and croup up. If you try to raise the neck of a hollow horse, you will push his withers further down and make collection impossible.


    • #3
      In total agreement with Moll.

      I've always liked the Hanoverian stallion Wonderful's trot in his video when he was 5 years old at the state stud.


      Lots of nice video on that site actually.

      In addition to the withers and the croup, I like to look at the hocks. Where are they in relation to the horse when they are in the bent phase of the stride. Reaching under the horse's belly or out behind? Also look at the hind hoof. Is it knuckled over with the toe pointing at the ground (or worse, dragged along the ground) or is the toe pointing forward with the flat of the foot parallel to the ground.

      Of course, a horse with poor conformation for dressage will not have that sort of articulation in his joints or the sort of roundness that these well conformed horses will. If a horse is croup high, it will be difficult for him to travel uphill without appearing to hollow his back a bit unless he has an uncharacteristic ability to really sit on his haunches. So for many horses, trots like these are not realistically attainable.

      I wonder if anyone can come up with some more ordinary pix of some not so fabulous horses showing a balanced trot?
      "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


      • #4
        Some Not so famous-

        Got a 8 on this med and comments "Very balanced" http://www.spindletopfarm.net/showtrot.JPG

        Working on uphill balance -

        Balanced young horse -

        Nice balance of my Big Man -
        Home of Puerto D'Azur - 1998 NA 100 Day Test Champion
        "Charcter is much easier kept than recovered"


        • #5
          Originally posted by STF View Post
          Some Not so famous-

          Got a 8 on this med and comments "Very balanced" http://www.spindletopfarm.net/showtrot.JPG
          No, no no no. The horse is hanging on the reins, on the forehand, very stiff.


          • #6
            Judges did not think so (was rated judge BTW)

            Are any of the others in your agreement?
            Home of Puerto D'Azur - 1998 NA 100 Day Test Champion
            "Charcter is much easier kept than recovered"


            • #7
              try these
              Attached Files
              Nothing worth having comes easily.


              • #8
                I agree with Moll. It looks like a good example of what I call 'stingy' movement.
                and it doesn't look like a medium at all. interesting. pictures can be deceiving.

                The first chestnut pictured above is purdy! He loses a lot of his power out his hind end though. All that energy that is kicked out behind will one day be brought under for some nice lengthens.

                I agree it's nice to see some Non Pro pics. those of us little people who manage to get it right sometimes.
                here's a nice working trot. scored an 8. wish it were a side view though. can't complain about the range of motion in his stifle! you can imagine what his mediums look like.

                not too bad for a sucky TB.
                Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Moll View Post
                  No, no no no. The horse is hanging on the reins, on the forehand, very stiff.
                  i would have to agree with that, though i think the rider is contributing to the stiffness by sitting too much on her seat bones and rounding her shoulders instead of sitting up straight and tall with the shoulders back. a horse cannot be light, uphill, and forward when the rider is crunched over like that. the rider must carry her upper body on her own so that it does not weigh the horse down.


                  • #10
                    Just purely because I want to be educated, I can see that the horse is a bit of the forehand, but where do you see the stiffness? Like what would you be looking at?
                    In my opinion, a horse is the animal to have. 1300 pounds of raw muscle, power, grace, and sweat between your legs - it's something you just can't get from a pet hamster.


                    • #11
                      I am also a hunter rider...and to the OP - I think that, differences in head carriage between hunters and dressage horses aside, this is a lovely picture of a hunter in a balanced, round, forward trot.

                      Adversity is the stone on which I sharpen my blade.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TropicalStorm View Post
                        Just purely because I want to be educated, I can see that the horse is a bit of the forehand, but where do you see the stiffness? Like what would you be looking at?
                        i see stiffness in the hind legs, the back, the neck, and jaw. starting with the hind legs, the horse doesnt look to be using his hind legs to his ability. he is dragging them a bit, not really pushing off with them. in the back, i notice right behind the saddle that the back curves down from the hind end. he is not rounding and lifting his back, which is why the hinds look a bit strung out to me. in the neck, the poll is not the highest point. the horse is breaking at the 3rd verterbae. he is also behind the verticle. the mouth is open, which implies tension in the jaw.

                        when i look at the whole picture, i dont see a horse that is light and moving forward. i see a horse that appears a bit bogged down. i dont think the horse is unable to be light and correct, but the posture of the rider is making it impossible for him. she has a tight hold on his face (notice the tension in the reins) and is not sitting up and carring her upper body. having the upper body slouch like that is difficult for the horse.


                        • #13
                          Thank you I could see the tension in the jaw, but having someone point out the stiffness in the hind really helps! Because I probably never would have noticed it on my own
                          In my opinion, a horse is the animal to have. 1300 pounds of raw muscle, power, grace, and sweat between your legs - it's something you just can't get from a pet hamster.


                          • #14
                            I guess juding once pic in time is not easy, since he scored well on the movement. Owell.
                            Home of Puerto D'Azur - 1998 NA 100 Day Test Champion
                            "Charcter is much easier kept than recovered"


                            • #15
                              No, it's just a moment in time. That moment from where the trot picture was taken, almost everything was lacking but could be that ten seconds later there was dramatic improvement.

                              Judges have different levels of skill, too, but, lacking a videotape of the trot in question, nobody can say what happened.

                              I just meant that that particular picture was NOT a good example of a balanced trot. I looked at your website and you have many better pictures on it so it was a strange picture to choose!


                              • #16
                                Its ok. I do see what your see as well. He looks to be pulling down on my hands. He was huge and moved like a big huge draft type (He was full Holstiner). Im 6ft tall and he made me look normal!! LOL
                                He was a clunk to ride, but I loved him!
                                Home of Puerto D'Azur - 1998 NA 100 Day Test Champion
                                "Charcter is much easier kept than recovered"


                                • #17
                                  This is a picture (taken by Astrid Appels of Eurodressage) of JJ Tate riding the 6 YO, Donnermuth, at the World Breeding Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Verden Germany several days ago. I'm not sure how much more balanced in the trot a 6 year old could be.


                                  This is me riding my mare when she was 4, two weeks after being weaned from her foal. One moment in time from a Training Level test where we scored in the mid 70s.


                                  And the same mare at age 8 in the first step of half pass now 4th Level (schooled by JJ at home)

                                  GoodNess Ridge Farm


                                  • #18
                                    Very pretty horse!!!
                                    Can I ask what type of footing that is in the last pic??
                                    Home of Puerto D'Azur - 1998 NA 100 Day Test Champion
                                    "Charcter is much easier kept than recovered"


                                    • #19
                                      Actually there are two different black horses in the 3 pictures. Picture #1 is of a 6 YO black gelding who just competed at the WBCYH in Verden. He and JJ were the highest scoring/placing U.S. horse and rider.

                                      Pictures #2 & #3 are my riding mare at age 4 and age 8. In picture #3 taken in my outdoor arena at home the footing is C-33 sand known as "concrete" sand. It's awesome, inexpensive footing that has the fines washed out of it leaving a very coarse, easily compacted sand behind. There are teeny-tiny pebbles in this sand. When wet it is very firm and even when dry does not roll under the horse's feet.
                                      GoodNess Ridge Farm


                                      • #20
                                        Man, I must have been taught totally wrong on how to ride. every single picture to me was absolutely horrid. Not that I am a pro, but..............Lets forget about looking at the horses, I am looking at the riders. If the rider is bad then how can u judge how the horse is going? I seen riders who were stiff in the forearms, shoulders hunched over, not looking where the rider was going. That in it self causes horses to fall in on the shoulder. Not one rider had any strong core riding. The one guy riding looks like he is in a lazy boy recliner. What about the hands? Every one had absoluteley no connection with their horse and all of them had their thumbs to each other not facing up. To me there was not one good example here but like I said I think I was taught wrong? Honestly, re-study the pics.