fixing short, choppy gaits
I have a tb mare who's conformation isn't terrible, but she has really short, choppy trot, no matter how much I try to extend her. She tends to fall behind the pace as well. On hacks and that kind of thing she'll stretch forward more, but I was wondering if there are any exercises or strategies I can use to improve her movement?
Has she been examined by a vet? Will she move out on her own in the pasture?
Ruling out soundness, a 'sewing machine' trot is very common in TBs and she moves naturally in this way, you'll never get her moving with a bit floating WB stride.
However, correct riding and training will help. She needs to learn to swing her back, TB's are notorious for being 'leg movers' with a back like an ironing board. Dressage lessons would be of great benefit to your mare. Once the back starts to swing, the shoulder will open which allows the stride to come longer and 'flow'.
Just asking her to speed up and running her out onto the forehand will make the trot even worse and begin to jar her tendons.
she's been examined by a vet, no lameness or soundness issues, and to be honest, i've never seen her move faster than walking except when I'm lunging her or someone's riding her.
Kayty, thanks, I actually have some dressage clinics i was planning to go to over the winter so hopefully that will help.
Would you be able to suggest some exercises specifically that would help?
How much dressage education do you have?
Its difficult to explain exercises over the internet as it really depends on the rider's experience.
But basically, lots and lots of circles, turns and curved lines. Avoid straight lines, they encourage a horse to stiffen and fall on the forehand unless 100% engaged.
Leg yield and shoulder in/shoulder fore are brilliant exercises for opening the shoulder and releasing the back. Also multiple, correctly ridden transitions. Don't ride more than 12 strides at a time in the same gait/tempo. Trot-canter-trot transitions are my favourite for releasing a horse's back, they literally HAVE to use their back in their transitions.
I do jumpers at the moment but the first 9 years of my riding career were in eventing so I have dressage in my background. I'll definitely try those things. Thanks!
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