How to ask for, and teach horse to lengthen w/t/c??
I am really getting into dressage, and would like to start showing my 7 y/o as soon as possible.
I would like to know how to ask for/train my mare for an extended w/t/c? I would be really helpful.
Thanks guys :]
You wont get her to extend for a LONG time, lol, years. but to lengthen just ask her to trot more, but you have to have her hind end engaged for this, she will be very unbalanced on legthenings for a while, but then it willl get easier for her.
I suggest you get a trainer, then she can explain it and teach it a lot better :)
Yep get a trainer!! You won't get extensions for a few years yet, like what you see at FEI level, but you can lengthen the paces to a medium trot/canter. Walk is a different matter, extended walk is a difficult movement, you don't need it until you reach the upper levels of dressage. The only walk you will need in what you will be doing if you start competing, is medium walk (which is the equivalent of working trot and canter) where the horse is round, over its back has a good contact on the bit and is marching forward with a clear 4 beat rythem. The other is the long rein walk, which is mainly used to cross the diagonal and change rein in a test. Again, the horse should be going actively forward in a clear 4 beat rythem, but the neck should be lengthened with the ears level with or lower than the withers, but not on the forehand, the back still needs to be round with engaged hindquarters.
There is also collected walk but again, this is not needed for some time.
As ridergirl said, get yourself a good trainer that can help you. If you already have a trainer and she hasn't started you on lengthenings yet, that is probably an indication that you are your horse aren't ready for them at this stage. The horse needs to be engaged, have good balance, rythem and straightness in all 3 gaits before you attempt a true lengthening, and even then most horses lose their balance for the few attempts, most will break into canter from a lengthened trot, so you want to ask for only a few strides at a time, then bring them back for a few strides, then out again for a few, just to build their confidence and stregnth.
Ok, this is on the basis that ALL basics are correct and well established first...
I personally teach my horses to lengthen their trot over poles. I place the poles on the circle I am working on so they fan out. That way, depending on where I ride them they either lengthen or shorten the stride if required. My big boy finds it hard to lengthen due to the fact he has a massive swing in his hind end and finds it very hard to break the rythmn to get out of it. By asking his hind quarters to step in for a stride or two first, he steps under himself better and is able to lengthen well. It has become my sneaky cue even under judges he he he.
poles are a good idea, as long as you make sure the horse is used to poles before trying to lengthen their step with them.
I would get a coach to help. It is very difficult to teach a horse to maintain rhythm while going more forward and it's hard to fix when all you have is a tickety trot. The lengthen stride is a movement governed by a very strong seat and good half halt and timing. It would be beneficial to get someone to start to teach the horse, and then teach you to continue teaching the horse.
Teaching a lengthening takes commitment on the horse's part. What I mean by that is, when you ask for a smaller trot, bigger canter, more active walk, etc, your horse should respond to that request immediately. Teaching transitions within the trot can be very difficult since a bigger trot requires a lot more work on the horse's part. Most try to avoid the work by jumping into the canter instead which is a much easier gait for them. If you start working on lengthenings, please make sure you first have good command of both reins and legs, your half halts are effective, and your horse is attentive to you. I spent an entire clinic working them with my 6 year old TB and was surprised to find all that was involved. Good luck.
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