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Working on Lengthen, medium, etc trot

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  • Working on Lengthen, medium, etc trot

    This may be pointless, because if the heat stays this gross, what riding I do will continue to be in the woods. BUT...

    Anyone have any interesting things to try for working on trot lengthenings, etc? Now that Toby is out of his super ninja warrior/fresh off vacation mode and we seem to be able to actually do productive things instead of just attempt to stay in the ring/on the trail/in the county, I'd like to start working on his weak link- his trot lengthening.

    He has a lovely, loose, relaxed working trot, but right now he really just wants to quicken and shorten a bit when asked to lengthen. I have a few things I do to work on it with him (a little shoulder in through the short side, big trot all the way around, asking for more out of each turn, have him trot out in the open with one of our ridiculously good movers), but I am always open for some other ideas.

    We got five 8s on our last dressage test...but 5s (I think) on our lengthens...we got to get them to catch up!

  • #2
    Perfect timing on this question, as I've been pondering this with my mare. I don't have an answer for you, but hopefully we can both reap the benefits of other people's advice.
    Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck; some nights I call it a draw. -- fun.

    My favorite podcasts: Overdue, The Black Tapes, Tanis, Rabbits, How Did This Get Made?, Up and Vanished.


    • #3
      Trot poles / cavaletti? Spaced further and further apart?


      • #4
        Practical Horseman had a fabulous mini series about this...

        Part one: http://www.equisearch.com/resources/..._trust_070810/

        Part two: http://www.equisearch.com/horses_rid...enings_081210/

        I used the cavaletti exercises with my old horse... We needed to get his muscles loose and get him more adjustable in the lengthening department because putting 2's in 1's just gets embarrassing after a while, not to mention it wastes time. After about a month of working with these exercises, I had a horse so adjustable that a GP rider said that I'd never, ever have to worry about making any stride on this horse and another upper level rider/trainer told me that he was one of the most adjustable horses she'd ever seen. I was pretty pleased

        So... the skills you get from a good flat lengthening carry over to jumping like you would not believe!
        Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


        • #5
          Second trot poles. Also, if you hack in company, trot races on the way home can be really useful. Plus they're fun.


          • #6
            Don't drill them. I found that Bonnie did best when I got in the habit (be careful, though, this can carry over FOREVER in a horse with a good memory) of always asking for a lengthening on one particular diagonal of our indoor arena. We'd turn the corner, I'd ask for just a few steps, and if she offered a bit of a lengthening of stride, she got big pats and a little break. Then again when we went down that diagonal, several repetitions during a ride and always quit after a decent one.

            She caught on pretty quick, and now lengthenings are their OWN reward--she loves to offer them and I use them as "treats" during a ride.
            Click here before you buy.


            • #7
              This is what I like to do: half walk which is half the speed of a working walk to a free walk on a long rein. Transition from one to another a few times. Then half trot very slow, half of a working trot then transition to your stretchy trot. Transition between these.

              Once you are doing a good version of each of these you can transition from the stretchy trot to a working trot and then to a lengthening. Then go back to half trot. This really works their backs so don't do too much at first.

              This is a good useful exercise.

              Working in an open field is great, sometimes they really open up there but it is helpful to do the other first.

              Hills for strength too!


              • #8
                You need to establish balance first BEFORE you go for lengthenings. This involves half-halts and transitions. Tons of them, anywhere. When you feel that your horse is not pitching forward or sucking back, but is holding himself and you up, then it's the time to half-halt, squeeze and send your hands a little forward, for a few steps of lengthening. If he is properly balanced you should feel his shoulders lift and his rear legs step further under his belly. If he is not correctly balanced he will pitch on to his forehand.
                ... _. ._ .._. .._


                • Original Poster

                  dw, tell me about it! Somewhere along the line, the Blonde Pony was taught that every diagonal meant bombing, big trot. It has taken me awhile to teach him otherwise. And, funnily enough, I was just telling a client this last night.

                  Nohands, this sounds interesting. I'll have to play with these. And now that he is no longer practicing the Toby Shuffle for the majority of each ride, we can actually DO useful things like this. He has gone out in the open a few times with some of our warmbloody types who come from the womb knowing how to do knock your socks of lengthenings, and it has helped. But I am flying solo for a week (EVERYONE has left me! I don't even have my teenagers to keep me company while I ride), and without the companionship of a second horse to keep him focused instead of doing ninja moves, we have to stick to things we can do in the ring. This seems like a good one.

                  Cavelletti don't seem to do it for us. We do them quite a lot, but they never seem to translate to when I ASK for a lengthen.

                  I know they'll come. Vernon has lovely little lengthens and mediums, and while he's a cute mover, he doesn't move like Toby.


                  • #10
                    My big mare took some different tactics to learn her mediums and extensions this winter, since she's a huge, powerful mover but rushes and loses her balance. It all started when an instructor I worked with said to go for a full extension and see what happens across a big diagonal. So, I sat deep got my leg in a good rhythm with my trot and let her open up-she rushed at first but as I kept pushing and even tapping lightly with the whip it became incredible and brilliant. Although tough to recollect especially in the indoor.

                    So the next time I worked on it, we did it on a long straight stretch out in the field on a hack and soon it was easy to get the brilliant trot and she learned to balance herself as we worked on it over light hills. She's still not easy to collect afterwards, but lately we've been doing the downward transitions when shes travelling up hill and that seems to help. It's a bit different, but might be worth a shot to seeif he will open up fully out in the open and then try and bring it back to the ring.

                    "A canter is a cure for every evil." - Benjamin Disraeli


                    • #11
                      It's all uphill- both ways!

                      Another way to build the hindend power for the balance is to use major hills that are small mountains. The endurance riders know the more vertical and serious mountain trails for conditioning. They tend to be in state parks and they are forested with stream crossings along the way. There's some by Front Royal, for example. And you get to cross the Shennandoah river if you play your cards right. That is always fun on a hot day.
                      Old Dominion Hounds foxhunt has lots of trails that will do the trick. Pm me if you want a scout.
                      Intermediate Riding Skills


                      • #12
                        My most excellent dressage trainer uses leg yield. It produces amazing results.

                        Turn up quarterline and leg yield to rail. Immediately turn outside shoulder toward short diagonal and ask for lengthen.

                        The leg yield gets the hind end involved and the short diagonal is the perfect start. Might only produce a few quality strides at first, but as they can maintain the balance for the whole diagonal start introducing the long one.

                        Obviously, the leg yield has to be of quality (straight, in balance, etc) before it can produce a quality lengthening.
                        Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                        The Grove at Five Points


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by ACMEeventing View Post
                          My most excellent dressage trainer uses leg yield. It produces amazing results.

                          Turn up quarterline and leg yield to rail. Immediately turn outside shoulder toward short diagonal and ask for lengthen.

                          The leg yield gets the hind end involved and the short diagonal is the perfect start. Might only produce a few quality strides at first, but as they can maintain the balance for the whole diagonal start introducing the long one.

                          Obviously, the leg yield has to be of quality (straight, in balance, etc) before it can produce a quality lengthening.
                          Sounds similar to shoulder in along the short side to lengthen down the diagonal or long side.

                          Sounds like I need to go trot up the gallop hill! We have LOTS of hills (of varying degrees). Whicker, I would LOVE to go on an adventure...not sure Toby is fit for public consumption, though. He's a dork and we are barely tolerable among those who know and love us.


                          • #14
                            Another couple of cues to use are posting BIG when you ask for a bigger trot, and making a different sort of clucking noise - instead of "clucking" with your cheek, it's more of a "clock clock" with your tongue on the roof of your mouth -(some things are just not describably on the internet!! you'd know what I was talking about in a second if you heard me!) --do it in the rhythm of the bigger posting and they learn to associate that noise (and you can do it quietly in a test even) with "bigger trot". I learned both of these from my DQ friends and they seem to work.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by Hilary View Post
                              Another couple of cues to use are posting BIG when you ask for a bigger trot, and making a different sort of clucking noise - instead of "clucking" with your cheek, it's more of a "clock clock" with your tongue on the roof of your mouth -(some things are just not describably on the internet!! you'd know what I was talking about in a second if you heard me!) --do it in the rhythm of the bigger posting and they learn to associate that noise (and you can do it quietly in a test even) with "bigger trot". I learned both of these from my DQ friends and they seem to work.
                              We do the big post thing, though I've never added a cluck (I get scolded by the dressage coach I occasionally ride with for clucking TOO much, so I try not to). The big post worked on Vernon, but as of yet has not helped Toby...yet.


                              • #16
                                I think you got alot of replies from folks who are probablly better riders than me but I'll mention 2 things no one else has.
                                1) eventers (and some dressage folks) all try to teach the lengthening on the dagonal or the long side. My dressage inst said work on it on a big Circle (like 30 m or 20m) . Which makes total sense to me. On the circle your horses inside hind leg is carrying and driving more, He's actually more "collected" on the circle than on a straight side. So you get more push on a circle than on the long side. Once you teach them how to legnthen on the big circle you can move it around, do it on a short diagonal, after you get that try the long diagonal. But not until you get it on the short diagonal. Legnthening on big circle also prevents that nasty habit of horses anticipating a legnthening evey time you cross a diagonal
                                2) when I see folks ask for a legnthening I see them go into gorilla mode, you know the eventer hunch (I do it fwiw) when what you need to do is Push Your Belly Out. My dressage inst says half halt and organize before you ask for the L then when you ask look up and just push your belly out.... works.


                                • #17
                                  Timely thread! I am also working on trot lengthenings with my boy (well, I'm working on them; he's simply cantering when it gets too hard - sigh). I was recently visiting my buddy KarenC up in Michigan and watched her Jane Savoie Happy Horse Course DVD concerning teaching trot lengthenings. Here is what she said (hope this helps, as I am still working through it myself!):

                                  Assuming that everything is balanced and the connection is true, JS says to increase the connection in the hand, almost too much, and ask for the biggest trot you can. Be sure to maintain the connection in the hand as when you give the rein too much, they can lose balance and fall into canter. If they canter, you just bring them back into trot and ask for the lengthening immediately during the first few steps of trot after canter as they already are engaged. Once they offer you a few steps of a true lengthening rather than falling into canter or a quick, choppy trot, praise and relax.

                                  I know Jane Savoie is on this BB (although she posts on the dressage forum, mostly), so hopefully if I'm missing something completely, she'll come and correct me on this.
                                  "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

                                  So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."


                                  • #18
                                    I had the same issue. My horse was getting super hot in anticipation that the lengthening was coming. My trainer had me really establish a balanced trot through the short side of the arena thru the corner. As you begin the diagonal, power off into medium and collect for say, 5-7 steps over X and then back into lengthening. This worked super for my horse and helps him not to run. I use to do shoulder in to trot lengthening across a short diagonal, which is good too. However, my horse who has a harder time with trot lenthenings really benefitted with the collection over X.

                                    I think also working half a 20 meter circle lengthen and the other half collected is also helpful.
                                    Dream Again Farm


                                    • #19
                                      A variation on the leg-yield/shoulder-in methods that have already been mentioned:

                                      Try leg yeilding from the quarterline (or center line if the LY is good) to the rail. Straight a couple steps, then 15m half-circle, getting a nice bend in the turn, then lengthen on the diagonal part of the half turn to return to the rail. Go back and forth from side to side. They kind of "get into" the pattern (even those of mine who HATE repitition) and the medium usually improves after only a couple of times on each side.

                                      This one works better for me than those mentioned above with every single horse I have used it with. I think it is because I can get them stuck in the shoulder-in at times, and the shorter amount of lengthening keeps them from losing it and falling on the forehand, so they have a little more success.


                                      • #20
                                        If cavaletti aren't helping, try some lateral work to the lengthening. I did shoulder in to a lengthening with my old guy.

                                        Sometimes changing up where you put the lengthening in the arena is helpful... I normally did it down the long sides in my warm up, but if we were (shocker) doing a dressage day I'd play around with funky diagonals and patterns and such.

                                        I lucked out with the baby, he's super light and easy as they come for a greenbean, so all you have to do is close your leg evenly and he responds by lengthening his stride and reaching over his topline.

                                        OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. I just remembered something awesome that I forgot until just now. Even though that's how I taught the baby horse to do them....

                                        STRETCHY CIRCLES.

                                        I mean, think about it! When done correctly, stretchy circles (and stretchy straight lines. I do those too) teach the horse to lengthen over the back and neck into your hand and normally stretch out their trot too. I did stretchy circles throughout TB's workouts for weeks before I asked for a lengthening, and when I asked, he responded. (still, he is super easy for a greenbean so I suspect that if I'd asked sooner he'd have been just as easy.)
                                        Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.