The trot lengthening is a movement that first shows up at First Level. The trot lengthening is a test of “thrust” – the horses’ ability to push from the hind leg, through their back, and into longer, more suspended strides.
According to the U.S. Dressage Federation’s Glossary of Judging Terms, lengthening is defined as “Elongation of the stride and the outline of the horse, yet maintaining the same tempo [beats per minute] and balance as in the corresponding working pace.”
Are you having trouble getting your horse to actually lengthen the trot strides? Most all horses tend to rush and get quicker in the trot instead of actually lengthening the stride!
Here are some exercises to try:
- Go up the quarter line, leg yield over to the rail, then lengthen the trot down the long side. The leg yield is an exercise for lateral suppleness that helps loosen the horses’ back so that they CAN actually find a longer stride.
- Ride the lengthening on a 20m circle – using a curved line for the lengthening helps to keep the horse from getting strong and braced in the top-line. It is important to keep the horse round and supple in the neck and back in order to actually get a longer trot stride.
- Watch the YouTube video for more exercises (linked below).
- Riding diagonal after diagonal in lengthening trot WILL NOT improve your trot lengthening. Practicing transitions into and back from the lengthening is more useful.
- It can be helpful to ride the lengthening in posting trot to get off the horses back and allow them to move bigger.
- Think about the tempo as you start the lengthening – really think to yourself slower-bigger-slower-bigger.
- Remember that your horse has to be supple in order to get the strides longer and not just faster.
Hope these tips are helpful and let me know in the comments section if they are!