Getting the hunter under saddle extension

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Getting the hunter under saddle extension

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    08-04-2010, 04:12 PM
Getting the hunter under saddle extension

So this summer I have been working with April getting her to learn to put her neck down at the withers instead of breaking at the poll so much. Things have been going well with that and I want to teach her to give me an extension at the trot. However I am having a hard time I try to squeeze and sit my post a tad bit longer and she either breaks into a canter or just speeds up her trot (instead of extending). I then pull back on the reins and she will start to bend at the poll.

It is hard to explain without seeing it but any ideas?

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    08-04-2010, 04:23 PM
Green Broke
A nice extension doesnt all of a suddenly come out of nowhere unless your horse is freakishly talented or super ready for it. But 98% of the time, it just takes practice, and a little more each day.

I have been working on my horse to begin and extension and we are getting the hang of it. But she has to be collected and on her butt and with almost zero tension to get it.

When we started out she did the same thing, I would practice lots of transitions within the gait to help her get her balance and loosen up and get used to it, because it is hard for most of them.

Don't expect her to be able to do an extension the whole diagnol at the beggining, she will get a few good steps, then she might break to canter or trot, but keep your aids steady and don't get frusterated. Make sure your hands stay steady but feeling and loose so that she has something to balance into when she looses her balance.

And jsut gently push her into your hand and think about lengthening the stride, that should help, she will get bigger and bigger steps each day once she gets her balance. :)
    08-04-2010, 05:28 PM
I have a couple of questions for the OP-

I'm assuming you show in QH breed shows, is that correct?

And you want to show your horse in the hunter divisions, not just the WP? And your horse is confirmed in the WP gaits; and when you ask her to to a huntery, English style, forward trot, you run into problems?

If that's correct, what you want is lengthening, not extension, and the correct way to ask is with alternate leg aid. "Extension" is often understood as a dressage term for a fairly advanced movement that requires collection.

RiderGirl's advice is based on dressage training, and while correct to ask for true extension in the dressge sense, I think you're looking for something different.

Alternate leg aid means applying first one leg, then the other, in rhythm with the gait. For your horse, it may be easier to teach at the walk, using alternate leg aid to ask her to lengthen her walk for a few strides at a time, then letting her relax back to her normal walk. If she masters that, posting trot, and down the long sides of the arena, ask her to lengthen her trot by using inside leg as you rise, outside leg as you sit. Rhythm is more important that the strength of the aid, little squeezes or taps are plenty. If she breaks, gently bring her back and ask again on the next long side, or go back to your lenthening the walk exercise a few times before asking for a lenthened trot again.
    08-04-2010, 10:15 PM

I don't show breed shows yet but I would like to- just been doing the open show circut for now. My horse perfers english over western- she can do the nice little jog required for western but we struggle with the slow lope but she can carry herself well for hunt seat canter.

I guess I called it an extension since at the shows they call it "extend the trot" but what you said makes sense with dressage terms.

I will definitely try what you suggested- I very well could be over aiding what I should be. She will do the nice trot but I just need a little more when requested at the show.

Thanks for the help!!!
    08-04-2010, 10:21 PM
Are you asking for the extension all at once, or a little bit at a time? For horses that don't naturally give you that lengthening of stride, you almost need to ask for it very gently and just get a little big at the beginning, even if it's only an inch at a time. You mention that your horse will stretch his neck down. Will he reach for the bit? If so, encourage that movement by slightly lengthening the reins. Once the reins are slightly longer (not throwing them away), use gently increased drive with your legs, especially when sitting, to ask him to reach further forward at the trot and reach for that bit. He should also lengthen his stride out as well.

Will he hand gallop any? If so, I would let him. Can you get him out of the arena any? Another good option is to get him away from arena work, let him have his head a bit, and just let him move. Let him learn to move on his own and use his own body without you influincing him. You've worked along time on WP, right? You were controlling his every step. HUS you still have a lot of control, but not to that degree. By getting out of the arena and letting him just move on his own, you are letting him relearn how to use his own body. It will help you out some. It will also help him learn that there will be no punishment for lengthening his stride out some, which there was when he was doing WP.

Also, for the trot, I love lots of two-tracking to help free the shoulders up. I wouldn't do that yet, but when he starts moving forward I would add that in.
Let me know if any of this doesn't make sense.
    08-05-2010, 08:46 AM

I took a lesson a few weeks ago and was informed that I do too much work for my horse when I ride, so I have been really watching myself and mentally informing myself to not pump for her (which I think might cause her to trot faster vs lengthing). I havent been riding much WP this year since she just is not happy with it and in english she responds so much better and is fun to ride.

I don't have a very good place outside of the arena since the roads are tar and it gets into more houses so the ditches probably wouldnt work well. I really wish I had somewhere to go where it was more open. I will work on letting her do more on her own- as far as a little or all at once- I do things in baby steps with her. She is a smart horse but too much at once blows her mind and ruins a whole day of work. We have also done very little hand galloping and havent gotten to the point of a solid two-tracking. Thanks for all of the help- now I have a few things to go work on :)
    08-05-2010, 11:03 PM
Another thing that my old HUS trainer used to have me do is literally go out with the cutters when they were loping circles and lope circles with them on my HUS gelding to get him out and let him exercise without "confining" his stride. In his words - put him on the buckle, sit back, and just let him lope. And this was coming from a top HUS/Pleasure driving trainer with multiple AQHA world championships. I haven't ridden with him in a few years, but with my 3yo, I will put her on the buckle and just lope circles with her sometimes when she is being a good girl to allow her to figure her own body out and as a reward. Here are two videos of her (remember green 3yo who has just under a year of riding all without a trainer) - first one is in January - had just started framing up at the trot, hadn't touched the canter yet. The other one is recent. Last, is a video of an ex WP horse with me schooling him under English, trying to get him to reach out. Maybe you can see how I am riding him and asking him to move out at both gaits to give you some added ideas. Best of luck to you and keep us updated!!

    08-06-2010, 05:53 PM
I can't see the videos in sandsarita's last post because I'm at work; but I really liked the advice in her previous post. Your horse undoubtably thinks she's not *supposed* to move out or lengthen after being trained for WP. I can almost see that pretty little buckskin jogging along thinking "I don't know what the heck she's doing up there, I'll just keep jogging until she figures it out."

So, working outside the arena and working alongside the cattle horses are great ways to show her it's okay to move out; as well as asking for a little more movement and praising extravagantly when you get it.

Working beside a horse with a forward trot might help as well.

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