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Stretchy trot help?

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  • Stretchy trot help?

    Hi everyone!

    Since I am not currently in a position where I can take my horse for lessons (gas prices) and my instructors are all a minimum of 2 hours away, I figure I could soak up the knowledge of you wonderful people here!

    So I'm having a little trouble with my boy's stretchy trot. He is a pretty hot tempered horse, doesn't like to be messed with a lot, and is very...opinionated. And in his opinion, me slightly pushing the reins forward means go faster. When I go to half halt he takes that as a signal to come back into a frame. He has a wonderful free walk, but does not understand how to stretch down at the trot without running off!

    He is a wonderful horse, and I want to make sure I am doing this right!

    Any tips or tricks you all have for achieving a somewhat decent stretchy trot that I could build on? Or how to help him understand what I'm asking?

    All advice is GREATLY appreciated!
    Thanks!
    Emily
    Please visit the Donate page!

    https://justworldeventer.squarespace.com

  • #2
    I like to think that the feel in your hands is exactly the same, only on a longer rein. No break, or loop, or drop in the contact, just a seamless feeding of the reins to allow the neck to stretch down and out. Not heavier, and fall on the forehand, or lighter and lost the connection. So keep the nose from curling behind the vertical, think to push your hands toward his ears. I common mistake I see is riders locking their elbows and hands down low by the thighs. Keep the straight line from elbow to bit like you would any other time.

    For the speedy or unbalanced horse, try sitting the stretch trot, or posing on the inside diagonal to contain the shoulder.

    The stretch is also a test of the quality of your connection, so it shows if there are some holes in other parts of your flatwork. Make sure they are straight and on the outside rein, not falling in or drifting.

    Take it slow, go for quality, and not quantity of stretch, and the horse will learn to love it and look for it as a break. They go YAY in a test and then you get good coefficient scores!

    Stretch trot is one of my favorite easy bonus points, and to prove to the judge that "hey! look how well trained we are!" Once you get the feel, you can help a lot of horses learn it.

    It's a very important diagnostic tool for a judge. I scribed for one that was questioning the quality of the connection, thinking the horse make be in a false frame with just his head down, but for the entire test nothing changed. Then they came to the stretch trot and the ride slacked the reins . . . and absolutely nothing changed. The judge said "Ha! thought so!" and collective marks were probably not as good as if there was no stretch trot to prove that the horse in fact was being held together and was faking a frame.

    Comment


    • #3
      Rather than releasing the reins and expecting the horse to follow, you are supposed to just gradually allow the horse to stretch down into the longer contact. This takes a lot of schooling with a hot, rushy horse.

      I do little fragments of stretching here and there, just a few strides, even, rather than just drilling stretchy circles. A good, quiet stretch is rewarded with a walk and rest, to get Hot Pants Bonnie thinking that stretching is what comes before RELAXING.

      On my part, I have to be careful to slow my posting and to make BIG half halts, sometimes every stride if she's not feeling like stretching at that moment.

      What's hard is when stretchy circles follow lengthenings in actual tests, because Bonnie LOVES her lengthenings.

      Basically I try to make them into rewards, rarely asked for prolonged stretch, and always make them very gradual.

      And then in an actual test where we're both fired up and things happen too fast, we fake it.
      Click here before you buy.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Excellent! Thank you both SO much! Food for thought on my part. I will be printing these suggestions out and taking them to the farm with me tomorrow (yea, I'm a little dorky...)
        Thanks again!!!
        Please visit the Donate page!

        https://justworldeventer.squarespace.com

        Comment


        • #5
          I agree, the stretchy trot is an extension of how good your connection is. I have a hot TB who was a track horse... We have soe relation excersizes we do, specific types of loops, circles and lateral work...

          We also worked on walk/trot transitions with no rein contact... which took a long time to master, but this was key in getting her to really listen to the body language. We always do this at the beginning, it helps her to relax over her back too. And if she gets a little hot or pushy we can go back to this.

          But once we worked on our connection stuff like the stretchy circles become very smple.
          "My ideal horse is the horse that I fall in love with again every morning when I see his face hanging over the stable door, looking for breakfast. " - Jim Wofford

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Wonderful! Thank you so much!! I've got some stuff to work on today, thanks!
            Please visit the Donate page!

            https://justworldeventer.squarespace.com

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            • #7
              First, a nice stretchy trot comes from correct work. Without the correct suppling, etc...you can't really get a good stretchy trot.

              That said, I haven't gotten there yet and probably never will...so...some thoughts.

              Note however though, that I use the stretchy trot to check my dressage work. If the horse does not naturally stretch down at the end of a session or at a break I feel I have not done a good job. Whether the stretch is a 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 is open to debate, but I want SOME stretch.

              1. teach the horse the word "down" - if you get a relaxed moment, let the reins out, and if the head goes down at all, reward it. (For one mare, I actually pressed on her neck while riding while saying down. I had started with pressure at the poll and the word down (while unmounted).

              You aren't supposed to speak in tests, but you can practice it and when you head down the diagonal if you do everything ele the same (whatever your cue is, leaning forward a bit, letting out reins, etc. they catch on.

              2. "Sawing the reins" or whatever nicer term you can come up with. As you trot, start your circle and then "slide" the bit back and forth - basically pull on one rein, but out, then the other, out the other way, and keep it up until you get a reponse. It is not a pulling back motion. Keep working at it until you get a good stretch.

              3. Teach the horse to seek the bit - push them forward as you give rein, take some back, start out with little movements, maybe 2 inches, then next time, 3, etc.

              However,
              "Fool! Don't you see now that I could have poisoned you a hundred times had I been able to live without you." Cleopatra VII

              Comment


              • #8
                SillyKobie, ALL of my horses have started out running off when I began utilizing the stretchy trot rein length! All that connection stuff is important, yada yada, and I get that you always need to have your horse soft and supple, etc., but they are thoroughbreds and a looser rein means yahoo to them!
                So I started the stretchy thing while on a circle, at trot, at the end of a session so that the yahoos were pretty much out. Yes, in the beginning he ran off. I'd allow a little of it, on the circle, then reel him back in. I had to just repeat that, praising him with soothing, comfort words, like "gooooood boy", so that he started to understand that he could relax and did not need to immediately take advantage the minute the rein got a little longer. I also discovered that with another horse I worked with on that, that I could get the stretchy, and the downward movement of the neck, without pitching the reins out completely, but a little bit at a time. All of that took place on the 20m circle, pretty much, where you have their attention, and have established a good, metronomic type rhythm.
                Good luck and have fun, and when ever possible try and get help from the ground, even if it is as simple as having someone video your efforts and sending the video to your 2-hour away instructor. Or ask around, group up, and get an instructor to come to you. Many really want to teach right now and are willing to travel! Best of luck. Let us know if it's working!
                Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

                Comment


                • #9
                  also make sure you do not tip forward (that's my issue)

                  Stretch circle does not mean they get to run forward on the forehand...so you need to hold them with your core and make sure that you are not compromising your position to cue them to rush. Slow your posting...it should be long relaxed trot steps still bending on the circle.

                  It is not a looser contact....just a longer rein....so at first they may not take much rein and stretch much...but you have to take what they initially give you without giving up the contact.
                  ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd had trouble with the stretchy trot- my old racehorse tends to get tense and balled up and quick in front, and I would try to get him to stretch by loosening the contact rather than gently pushing him forward esp with my seat into a soft contact and then allowing him to take that contact down- once I realized my mistake and I stopped losing the connection with his mouth, we have a stretchy trot at home that I can also now ride through the canter. I think of riding the energy up over his withers and down to his ears and it works for us. Of course, I am not saying we can get it in public yet LOL.........
                    Be a part of the solution~ Adopt a thoroughbred!
                    MidAtlanticHorseRescue.org

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                      Rather than releasing the reins and expecting the horse to follow, you are supposed to just gradually allow the horse to stretch down into the longer contact. This takes a lot of schooling with a hot, rushy horse.

                      I do little fragments of stretching here and there, just a few strides, even, rather than just drilling stretchy circles.

                      On my part, I have to be careful to slow my posting and to make BIG half halts, sometimes every stride if she's not feeling like stretching at that moment.

                      this. it may take a very long time, especially with a hot horse. Hot horses are not always correct in the bridle 100% and the stretch trot is a test of correctness.

                      Lunging may help.

                      I'm the opposite of Delta in that my horses are asked often to trot for quite some time with directional changes with their nose on the ground.

                      I also prefer not to ride hot horses though. Sensitive horses are fine but I don't like hot--non pay attention--type horses. Makes dressage hard and like to have lots of fun and mold my horse quite a bit in the dressage. The horse's that can't take such pressure don't work out for me.
                      http://kaboomeventing.com/
                      http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
                      Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks for all the great advice!
                        I was asked to keep everyone posted, so here it goes...

                        I was going to ride him on Saturday, broke my finger, had to leave farm for doctor. Doctor said no riding for at least two weeks, so I rode the next day.

                        On Sunday I didn't ask for the stretchy trot until the end of our ride. When I did, I went with the suggestion of slowing the posting and half halting. Had to half halt with body only. He was confused. Not naughty, just confused. I let him VERY slowly take the reins from me (seeking the contact as I loosened up a little). We got a small change, but it was the beginning of the stretchy trot for sure!

                        THEN when I rode him today and applied some of the stuff akor said (
                        2. "Sawing the reins" or whatever nicer term you can come up with. As you trot, start your circle and then "slide" the bit back and forth - basically pull on one rein, but out, then the other, out the other way, and keep it up until you get a reponse. It is not a pulling back motion. Keep working at it until you get a good stretch.

                        3. Teach the horse to seek the bit - push them forward as you give rein, take some back, start out with little movements, maybe 2 inches, then next time, 3, etc.
                        ) and BAM! Stretchy trot! No rushing or running off, no flinging himself on the forehand. Nose lower than his knees and really coming up in the back. But instead of sawing the reins, I just opened up the inside rein more while keeping light contact on the outside rein. After we did this both directions I asked him to come back up into a frame at the trot (which was VERY nice), down to an active medium walk, then to the free walk. I was surprised at how low he wanted to go at the free walk after we had worked on the stretchy trot!

                        The stretchy trot is not something I'm going to push on him rapidly, but I think schooling it at the end of the ride for a few circles will be good for him!

                        Thanks SO much to everyone! And if you read the whole thing you get 10 bonus points and a virtual hug!!

                        -Emily and Koda
                        Last edited by TheBrightSide06; Jun. 15, 2011, 03:23 PM.
                        Please visit the Donate page!

                        https://justworldeventer.squarespace.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SillyKobie View Post

                          I was going to ride him on Saturday, broke my finger, had to leave farm for doctor. Doctor said no riding for at least two weeks, so I rode the next day.
                          awesome.
                          http://kaboomeventing.com/
                          http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
                          Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by purplnurpl View Post
                            awesome.

                            I'm not sure if that qualifies me for brave or stupid...maybe both?
                            Please visit the Donate page!

                            https://justworldeventer.squarespace.com

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                            • #15
                              Oh my!

                              that sounds great about the work -- be sure and tell him he's a good boy when he stretches!


                              And I hope your finger heals quickly. Be careful!
                              Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                              Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I agree w/ the above posts, but a few more things that might help. When I first started schooling the stretch trot on my guy he did the same thing and sped up a bit. He stretched down but would pick up the pace. I worked hard to control the tempo of my trot with my seat aids. I practiced this both while collected and with contact, as well as completely with a loop in my rein so that his tempo changed solely based on my seat/core and speet of posting. Now, if I slow down my posting enough he will walk without any change of contact in my reins. This really helped so when he started to speed up a bit when stretching down, I really focused on half halting with my core and slowing the post and he relaxed back into tempo. Every few weeks, I also do a session completely in the stretch trot to get him used to working long and low. I had one horse who had a really difficult time with the concept of stretching down at the trot. He'd stretch down nicely at the walk, and would take a few steps of stretch at the trot, then pick his head up. It was almost like he was unsure of carrying himself so low. While it was a little unconventional, my trainer tried something and held the edge of the bit and jogged beside me while I trotted to encourage him to keep his head down so that he had confidence that he could do it. We only had to do this a few times before it clicked, and he was very willing to stretch down after that.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  The whole point of the stretchy trot is to test to see if your horse is seeking the contact and drawing on the connection. Rather than trying to "teach" him the stretchy trot, you need to go back to your dressage training scale - for a hot horse, taking a few minutes during your work to refocus on something basic like rhythm can be helpful. Once he is truly accepting and happily moving into your contact, all you need to do is slowly allow him to stretch down and gently draw the reins from your hands.
                                  "Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle,
                                  but put me in summer and I'll be a... happy snowman!!!"

                                  Trolls be trollin'! -DH

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    He's got it now, thanks.

                                    Now another question! Koda understands the stretchy trot, but now that's all he wants to do! He will go in a frame and it's lovely, but every so often he will ask to stretch down, and not when I'm asking him. Should I tell him "no" or should I just let him enjoy his stretchy trot?

                                    Thanks in advance!!
                                    -Emily and Koda
                                    Please visit the Donate page!

                                    https://justworldeventer.squarespace.com

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      In the 'chewing the reins from the hand' exercise the horse should go forward/down/and out (opening the throatlatch) and seeking the hand. It is a test of whether the horse is properly connected to the hand. One does NOT want to 'saw' the horse into a closed/lowering posture (or put the head 'down' on command). Rather the horse should be more into the outside rein, and then gradually fed out while keeping the positioning and the activity from the leg as well. The horse should show more swinging/longer strides as well. If the lowering is artificial (ie from the hand sawing) it will often 'head butt' the hand asking for more room because it is out of balance. One really does not want to half halt a horse when it is going fdo, because a well ridden hh will fold the hindlegs and lift the neck. Rather, keep a steady posting tempo and a light contact.
                                      I.D.E.A. yoda

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                                        In the 'chewing the reins from the hand' exercise the horse should go forward/down/and out (opening the throatlatch) and seeking the hand. It is a test of whether the horse is properly connected to the hand. One does NOT want to 'saw' the horse into a closed/lowering posture (or put the head 'down' on command). Rather the horse should be more into the outside rein, and then gradually fed out while keeping the positioning and the activity from the leg as well. The horse should show more swinging/longer strides as well. If the lowering is artificial (ie from the hand sawing) it will often 'head butt' the hand asking for more room because it is out of balance. One really does not want to half halt a horse when it is going fdo, because a well ridden hh will fold the hindlegs and lift the neck. Rather, keep a steady posting tempo and a light contact.

                                        Thanks! Yea, definitely can't saw the reins on this one or he gets mad. He understands the stretchy trot now, and is rather good at it.

                                        Any suggestions on what to do when he keeps insisting on only doing stretchy trot? He REALLY likes it...
                                        Please visit the Donate page!

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