Tag Archives: trot


1To develop suppleness, engagement, balance and obedience; to help your horse achieve self-carriage try riding him ‘on and back’ by asking him for a few lengthened strides before asking him to come back to his working pace and repeating it several times in a session (transitions).

To set up the lengthened strides …



The importance of how you understand and focus on the collective marks cannot be emphasised enough.  If you pay lip service to this you will not have a full appreciation of the aims of your test as more and more emphasis is being put on the horse’s ‘way of going’.  It is no longer sufficient to simply do the movements; you must demonstrate relaxation and willingness from the horse.

The collective marks allow the judge to give an overall score for their perception of how you and your horse performed throughout the test.  It is their opinion as to how you, as a combination, conducted yourselves and the overall impression you left them with as the test progressed.

The first post in this series – Collective marks – Scoring, explained the way the collectives are scored by the judges.  Moving on, we turned to paces, regularity and freedom, the first of the collectives to be given marks and my post the collective marks – paces and regularity – the walk takes you through the rule requirements and what is being looked for in the walk element of your test.

Your score will be either an individual score for each of the 3 paces (walk, trot and canter) or an overall score for all of them, depending on your training level.

So, onto Trot – the two beat pace of alternative diagonal legs separated by a moment of suspension.


The trot should show free, active and regular steps

It is the quality of the trot that is being judged.  By assessing the regularity; elasticity of the steps; cadence and impulsion the quality of the gait originates from the horse’s supple back and well-engaged hindquarters.  Rhythm and balance will be assessed with all variations of the trot.

At all times the horse is required to be ‘on the bit’.  For the observer, a horse is on the bit when you can draw an almost vertical line from his nose to his forelock when viewed from the side. Yet, there is so much more associated with the horse on the bit that many riders are not aware of.



So, today we worked on teaching my young horse Trot Extensions and the essence of the matter is preparation.

The corner before the extension, assuming you are making the extensions across the diagonal is absolutely vital.  It should be forward, balanced and primed.

  • Half halt, make sure you have a good bend and use the corner well
  • After the corner, half halt again to let your horse know something different is about to happen (a transition into extended trot)
  • Sit up and apply your leg aids – BOTH – gently and off again, whilst giving A LITTLE with the rein, from the elbow.
  • Remember you are not aiming to go faster, just longer strides so don’t give away the contact.  The Horse should have a consistent contact so that he/she doesn’t run and simply lengthens the stride.
  • In the early days, talk to your horse – Tell them to trot on as if you were lunging, this will help to stop them going into canter

Allow it to happen.

Expect it to happen.

Feel it happening.


And when it does, lots of praise to reaffirm the horse is doing good.

Trot Extensions

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster



Every horse has his own cadence, or ‘inner music’.

When trying to find it, it is easy to confuse slowness and laziness, or speed and impulsion.


Too fast and your horse will stiffen, the stride shortens and you will lose relaxation.

Too slow and the rhythm will be compromised and laboured. It’s all about the rhythm and relaxation; because without it the trot can’t be wonderful and you will not have cadence.

Look for a trot that feels light and flowing, supple, smooth, easy – feel the inner music and let your horse express himself.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster



Sitting Trot – Before you can be effective in the sitting trot, you need to become skilled at putting weight in the saddle. Most riders sit on their seat bones and pinch with the knees.

  • 1 BUMP N GRINGFirst tip: Always practice the sitting trot when you and your horse are warmed up.
  • Second tip: It will be easier if you let go of those adduct muscles that are gripping for dear life and getting in the way of gravity! Do less, not more when going from rising to sitting.
  • Third tip: Experiment with sitting heavy – like a sack of spuds – to feel the weight of your seat in the saddle. Don’t keep it though! Just feel it.
  • Fourth tip: “In the trot, the hip has to trot, not the hand” – N.Oliveira

So, take a two step approach:

  • Step 1. Whilst rising concentrate on feeling your pubic bone and seat bones as the three-point contact.
  • Step 2: Take sitting trot and sit tall, stretch your neck upwards, letting your full weight rest on these three points, feel the rhythm, and move your seat in a pelvic rocking motion. This is important! Exaggerate if you need to, to begin with, just to help you feel the motion of the horse.

Hey listen, I know that you will not get sitting trot by simply taking on board these tips! I could write a book, the subject is vast and very, very difficult. But practice a little at a time, as soon as you feel everything tensing up, rise for a stride or two and sit again.

It will come, as always – be patient.


Wow, have you ever felt, I mean really felt what a correct change of bend feels like.  Flowing, rhythmic, effortless.  Having worked hard on establishing correct bend on a 20m circle in both directions, I worked through the change of direction over X, as shown in the diagram.
change of bend
Whilst this seems a very simple exercise, getting it right is a major building block to so many other exercises that it is really worth taking time to perfect.
  • A good rein contact
  • Spot on rhythm
  • and tempo, absolute maintenance of the bend throughout each circle without allowing the hindquarters to fall out, maintenance of the size of the circle in the correct position in the menage and, of course, ride the correct diagonal.
Oh, and don’t forget that momentary straightening through X.  So, this simple exercise, done properly is not so simple.  Get all that and you’re there!


When meandering round the school on a long rein giving your horse a break what sort of a shape are you making in the arena? Is it like anything you’ve ever seen in a dressage test?

1 what shape

Essentially, even when relaxing (let us not forget the horse only does circa 1 hour out of 24 in work and gets lots of breaks in that time) you should ensure that you are on a correct circle, or that when you change the rein you do it across a diagonal or in a loop, when walking around the outside track you ensure you are using the corners.

It’s all part of conditioning the horse to the movements required in a test and to listen and be in-tune with you whatever you are doing – even having a break!

Next time you are relaxing, please put in more effort to get it right!


Patricia – The Dressage Tipster



67328_348660735237784_47607227_n644490_348660741904450_501584849_nAre you aware of the power of working your horse in a long and low frame?

I am making a clear distinction here between Long, deep and round – Low, deep and round – and Long and Low. Because my horse is young, 80% of my training is done in a long and low frame with the poll never coming above the level of the withers until the last 10 minutes of the session.

So, how do you achieve a long and low frame?

48145_348661341904390_52763903_nAllow your horse walk on a long rein and when you take up the contact, take it slowly, maintaining soft, following hands on a longer rein that you usually school with.

When ready for trot ensure it is forward (this is essential), keep your hands low, use your fingers to squeeze and release the inside rein. Ideally your horse will drop his head for a stride or two and travel with a round frame. You want him to seek the bit forward, you need to maintain a contact but do not hold the horse together, if all is well he will offer to stretch down but you must give and react quickly enough to ensure that your horse is rewarded for his efforts.

If you get a bit wobbly in your seat it’s because you are relying on your hands for balance! This is BAD and another good reason to work your horse long and low is to improve your own balance and reduce dependence upon your hands.

You will definitely know if you have got it. Your horses back will lift up to your seat. This lifting sensation is unmistakeable and exactly as described. Sensational!

This is an emotive subject … see pictures and feel free to comment.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster