Horse-Riding: Schooling the Extended Trot

In order to increase the tempo of the trot, the rider increases the drive with the legs, also increasing the pressure of his seat by rounding the small of the back, while contacting a steady, even rein, which yields as the horse’s stride lengthens. Driving by the legs should be done with simultaneous pressure of both legs.

To increase the driving potency of the seat, the rider can increase the seat pressure by isometrically firming his abdominal muscles. Meanwhile, the lumbar back must continue to accommodate generously the ever-lengthening swing of the horse’s back, which is caused by the lengthening strides.

The aids must be firm but calm and should be repeated until the horse steps with his hind legs forward, under his center of gravity with full power. It is crucial to keep a metronomically even two-beat rhythm. Should any violation of the clarity of the two-beat occur, the horse must be slowed to a shorter trot that is comfortable enough for him to recover his balance and rhythm.

The desire and willingness of the horse to go forward can be built best on long, straight lines, which if lacking in an outdoor space, can best be found on the diagonal of an arena. However, as the horse becomes willing to perform this powerful movement, extensions should be ridden on shorter, straight stretches. The horse, which is not yet able to carry himself and his rider naturally in the extended trot, may find the shorter periods of extensions easier at first.

As the horse increases his tempo by stretching into ex tensions, he will freely swing his legs from his hips and shoulders. At the beginning, this movement might result in the lowering of the neck and head position. It is not considered a fault and should not be corrected by tightening or disturbing the rein. As the horse matures in this movement, he should become capable of longer overstriding with his hind legs, increased engagement of his joints and muscles, and improved balance. With maturity of skills and increasing strength, the head and neck position will automatically come into its ideal place. A horse moving with impulsion and in balance will inevitably present the correct neck and head position. The motion should remain harmonious with unity in the timing of the diagonal pairs of legs touching the ground with precise synchronization.

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