Thursday, April 21, 2016

On Making a Trot

One thing that stuck me when I read a clinic write up on Charlotte Dujardin a few months back was her assertion that a horse needs a good walk and canter, but that "[she] can teach the trot". My first thought when I saw that was "well good for her, but we can't all be Charlotte".

Of course, I have the horse that I have and I'm not trying to make it anywhere in particular. I didn't exactly run out and buy a purpose-bred dressage horse with big, lofty, desirable gaits. Courage is perhaps a better-than-average mover. Cute, even. Not world-beating by any stretch. Frankly, that's fine with me. I can ride him. His movement doesn't scare me and on the occasions I've sat his trot (mostly to ride through spooky stuff at this point), it doesn't bounce me out of the saddle.

His trot is fine. He doesn't have a bunch of suspension and he likes to be tight in his back. Whatever. It's rideable. On account of me-not-being-Charlotte, I like rideable.

And that's just what it's been. I'm an average rider with some issues. Courage is a better-than-average (no, not biased) horse with some issues.

And then we started learning our trot lengthenings.

At first they were rough, fuzzy at best, and had a lot of breaks into the canter. Which was fine. We were learning together.

Then they got a little clearer and a little better. For some mysterious reason, they actually got better to the right before they did to the left, but whatevs. They still weren't amazing. We were starting to get the idea.

I don't like to drill anything with Courage, so the day after a decent ride we either hack or throw him on the lunge for some no-pressure leg stretching.

wait WUT

I do believe that's what we call a "moment of suspension".

And there is such thrust! And topline is happening. And um did anyone else notice it's all in a halter where he can literally do whatever he wants?


That made me all excited and I wanted to see it under saddle, but alas, this has been the week of technical difficulties.
This is sort of a shot of it in our lesson, but all the actually good sections of video fell victim to a phone malfunction. Whoops. And then I had a really good ride with another videographer, but she was also kinda broken at the time, so the angle was no good. (As in all the good trot was from directly behind us).

I did snag a picture of Lindsey riding Courage, but my phone was not feeling the epic-dust thing, so you're welcome for the rather-intense blur.
So yes. The girl who LOVES trotting pictures is all excited because now there's a different level of trotting pictures available, but ALAS I cannot provide you with really spectacular trotting pictures at this juncture.
closer. still nope.

I guess what is a surprise to me is how much adding in baby lengthenings that are far from perfect has improved every bit of our trot work. Courage is finally understanding a really solid contact. He's moving his back. He's accepting a little pressure.

I'm not saying that he's Valegro all of a sudden, because obviously he's not. What is happening is that I'm learning I don't have to be Charlotte to teach a trot to a normal horse.


  1. I loved reading this because this is almost exactly what's happened with Katai. She had the egg beater trot thing going on and with some correct work and learning baby lengthenings now she has that little bit is suspension!

  2. Same thing is happening right now for Henry too. It's magical.

  3. I made the mistake of not shopping for the canter when I bought Foster- his trot was nice but the canter was ick. Took me years to get his canter fixed, and I think I lucked out with an awesome trainer to get there. Now that I'm [kind of] horsey window shopping again, I'm all about the canter. The trot will come!

  4. Come teach mine to trot too, will ya? She wants to be fancy too!

  5. Looking goooood! I always hated that comment, because what do you do when your horse has a craptacular canter? Guess I should have taken Charlotte horse shopping with me.

    1. I have no idea how to fix a canter. I'm crossing fingers that OTTB=auto canter lengthenings, because we haven't even touched those.

    2. just keep working it at. I don't think it's every fixed but it can get better!

    3. For what it is worth canters can improve but it is harder than it is to improve a trot. And there are other places you can help make up points (accuracy and so on).

  6. oooh check him out - even through the blur! i think once the horses learn that feeling of a little extra oopmh in the lengthening, it's easier and easier for them to just go there. feels good, man

  7. Love what a slightly bigger stride is doing for the whole picture. Forward and onward!

  8. I have heard that same adage before. I think it is definitely true and that longe picture is awesome! TBs are made to canter so you should be good to go there.

  9. He looks really good. Hard work definitely pays off

  10. Hey, we're playing that game too! We definitely struggle more with shortening the trot from turbo speeds...but this past few weeks it's been happening with minimal hissy fits! Our "normal" horses are gonna be kickass, you'll see.

  11. I've ridden horses with naturally good trots and been all "this is awesome" in the trot work. But their canters sucked (lateral, choppy, tight), and I realized I had no clue how to fix that like I do a trot.

    No thanks, kids. I'll always take the good canter. It's just what I'm comfortable with.

    FYI. You gotta be careful with those OTTBs and canter lengthenings, or you might get a true gallop and a comment of "lost rhythm". Not that that ever happens to me... ;)


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