Originally Posted by apachewhitesox View Post
... lengthen its stride in ...I was just wondering how exactly you would ask them to lengthen stride? ... Thanks
So before you can do any lengthening of stride you need to get the horse "in front of the leg". One way to easily tell - if you are walking and ask for canter and horse trots (or continues walking) then horse is BEHIND the leg.
When a horse is in front of the leg he (her) is "marching" along in whatever gait he is in, and actively stepping underneath his (her) body. So from your description (lazy) he is most likely behind the leg most, if not all, the time. To get him in front of your leg/his hind legs activated, you need to "bump" him with your legs. In the walk this is one leg at a time and the riders leg is determined by the riders hip - so when your left hip swings forward in the walk bump him with your left leg while keeping hold of the right rein. (If you don't have him on the right rein he may swing his butt away from the bumping leg instead of picking up the pace.)
Then next stride bump him with the other (in this case the right) leg, making certain you have him on the left rein. Here's where it gets a bit tricky - if you bump him with your legs ALL the time he'll soon start to ignore you. So when anytime you do a bump and don't feel a reaction tap him with the whip behind your leg - enough to "sting" horse (think horse fly bite sting) without causing a lot of pain.
So back to your original question - to start teaching lengthening (once horse is in front of the leg) you need to "give" enough rein to allow for the horses body to "stretch" or lengthen, but do so withOUT throwing away the rein. Especially in the beginning the horse may be depending on the rider to help balance themselves in this new frame.
I usually work lengthening on green horses at the trot first (walk and canter is harder for the horse). So:
1. pick up a working trot, make certain horse is in front of the leg, then
2. rider (looking forward NOT down) should sit then lean back slightly behind the vertical (this is so your entire body from hips up is pushing horse forward) and
3. squeeze the calves while moving elbows forward from waist (where they should sit most of the time) about 1-2 inches.
Make certain you post (after asking) so if horse tries to speed up you can use the rythmn of your post to slow him back down.
AT first you may only get a stride or two. So when horse starts rushing, tripping (cause he's out of balance), or not listening in general then rider needs to:
a. sit up straight,
b. bring elbows back to waist and,
c. while lightly squeezing BOTH calves squeeze/release the reins at the same time,
d. pushing straight down on the stirrups (a half halt)
e. then stop calf squeezes.
After horse can lengthen for many strides then you can stop the leaning back behind the vertical.