Teaching a youngster to extend... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 10-09-2011, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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Teaching a youngster to extend...

Hi guys :)
Duffy is progressing extremely well at the moment, and we're keeping her interest going. We've decided to introduce some extension and collection into our trot work. Now, my question is to you, what do I do when she canters instead? I know one reaction is better than none, but I think the cheely devil has learnt if she canters off, I have to bring her back, by that time, we're at the end of the school!

She has superb paces, and normally when asking for canter, we just about get it.. so it really perplexes me when she does this haha!

Any hints and tips appreciated!!

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 14 Old 10-09-2011, 05:17 PM
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It's hard to say for sure what the solution is without being able to see what she's doing. If you can, a video would be a great way for us to give you a better idea.

To me, it sounds like she's probably rushing, and not extending properly. You can't have a true extension without first teaching the horse to collect and sit back on their haunches. From there, they need to learn to reach out and lengthen their stride without changing their tempo. So, to do this right, forget about the extension and teach her to rebalance herself first. Otherwise, the only tip I can give you is to not let her pick up speed in the extended trot - the rhythm should stay exactly the same, with the length of the stride being the only variable.
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post #3 of 14 Old 10-09-2011, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Clementine View Post
It's hard to say for sure what the solution is without being able to see what she's doing. If you can, a video would be a great way for us to give you a better idea.


Agree a video would help.

Usually they rush and fall out of balance then get dis-coordinated.
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post #4 of 14 Old 10-10-2011, 02:43 PM
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Also make sure you're asking her to extend with the side of your leg instead of your heel.
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post #5 of 14 Old 10-10-2011, 03:35 PM
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I guess my first question would be are you trying to shorten and lengthen the trot, or genuinely try to collect and extend? Two very different things.

The way I was taught to develop extended trot was to establish collected trot on the short side of the arena, do a 10 - 15 meter circle in the corner and ask for an increase in energy and collection (sort of coiling the spring) and then come down the diaganol and release that coiled or compressed energy forward. If the horse canters using this method; you're either releasing to the point of losing contact, or you're failing to keep the trot rhythm in your seat and the horse is cantering out of confusion. Possible solutions are to work more on developing the collected trot before attempting to extend; and to ride the extension rising to help reinforce the rhythm.

If what you're trying to do is teach shortening and lengthening, and your horse doesn't understand that your asking for longer steps rather than a faster pace, first try going back to the walk - it's easier to develop a lenthened walk. Also make sure you're using an alternate leg aid in rhythm with the walk or trot, rather than using both legs simultaneously.
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post #6 of 14 Old 10-11-2011, 01:21 AM Thread Starter
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Hey guys, thanks for the feedback!
Unfortunately no video available.. a cam is next on my list of things to get!
She sits on her haunches very well in the collected canter, and for such a big horse, the feeling is amazing!
I'm fairly experienced in the dressage saddle, so no heel is a given ;) I've just never taught a youngster, and rather than fluffing it up, I thought I'd ask for help.

Maura, our general practise is our warm up, we do more lengthening in a walk than a trot at the moment, especially across the diagonal. We always begin the 'extendeness' so to speak as soon as she's stragith after a corner, our 10m loop is normally at A, or C, and we mix it up a lot so she doesn't think whole school or diagonal is always go. The coiling spring sounds just about right though, thats the exact feel I have with her. I'm thinking, after riding last night, its more to do with my seat. Contact with her is very good, she has a lovely buttery mouth.

My only problem is, now I think its my seat, that I'm in a jumping saddle. If you see my profile, you'll see the state I bought her in four months ago, and I'm borrowing a saddle that fits as there is no point me buying my own just yet as she'll soon grow out of it.

Being a dressage rider, short stirrups are a pain, thigh cramp! Thanks for the help guys! Will keep on at it, and practising.... but main question is, when she does canter, do I bring her back to collection, or bring her back and then send her forwards off my legs and seat again??
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post #7 of 14 Old 10-11-2011, 03:23 PM
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So as Maura suggested, you're working on lengthening when the problem is, your horse canters instead?

My first thought is that the contact is not quite right. I'm not sure what "buttery" means (sounds nice though!) but I'd want my horse a little more "into" the bit, relaxed but taking a feel of my hand, because when I sort of ease my contact, I expect her to take it up, stretch into it, which is what I do for lengthening. (At the same time I try to open my seat. When I want to come shorter again, I try to lift her with my seat as I take in the reins. I'm sure there are other ways, but this is what's been working for us lately.)
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post #8 of 14 Old 10-11-2011, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Beling, thanks for your post!
I say buttery, because thats super soft to me ;) My problem is I'm taught in German, with few english words thrown in, so I have to attempt to translate it haha!

She's definetly on my rein though, and the contact is fine, and I've tried looking at taking more, or less.

The thing is being in a jumping saddle doesn't help at all, but its the only one that fits at the moment (sad face, poor thigh cramp!) and I'm thinking the problem is really my seat! I know opening you're seat, and I'm wondering if she's confusing the signals slightly... but she's quick to learn.. super quick to learn... and she's learnt now, where as she'd normally start the extension, and then canter, she's going in to canter, and I think she's thinking, hey mum, if I canter now, we stop quicker and I don't have to work so hard ;)

So, do I bring her back and push her into the trot, or bring her back to collection and attempt it the next side?? Ideas please!! Ta kindly :)
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post #9 of 14 Old 10-11-2011, 03:50 PM
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I hope anabel, Kayty or Valentina will stop in on this thread, they all have a more extensive dressage education than I do.

Yup, working down the longside rather than the diagnol is a great idea for exactly the reason you stated, you don't want the horse to associate going across the diagnol with extended.

The distinction between riding an extended ride on a made horse and teaching it to a young horse is that on the made horse you can *follow* the horse's rhythm and motion with your seat, and that with the young horse you must establish and maintain the rhythm - the horse is relying on you to help them.

So I would definitely ride posting - the ability to follow a big extension with your seat is one thing and hard enough; to develop, support and hold that rhythm with a youngster is entirely another.

Second, a jumping saddle really doesn't help you maintain your position for the following seat and helps even less with the supporting the young horse with your seat thing. So post, definitely.

Also ask yourself if the horse is fit enough to truly hold more than a few more steps of extension. He may be breaking into the canter out of fatigue. Is there someone who can watch you? A sure sign of fatigue is if he widens behind as he extends. It can't hurt to go back and do some more work on developing the collected trot.
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post #10 of 14 Old 10-11-2011, 04:05 PM
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Posting, yes, that's a good idea! I forgot about that. I remember a horse I had that hated to lengthen and I'd keep posting when she broke into a canter, at the trot tempo, and it was all so awkward and awful she'd drop quickly back to the trot.
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