Advice on how to get the most marks for lengthened strides in a dressage test
Q: My horse tends to run onto his forehand when I ask for lengthened strides. How can I teach him not to?
A: Before starting to teach your horse to lengthen his stride at the trot, take two fixed points in your arena between 20 and 30m apart and count the number of strides your horse takes between those two points in working trot.
The aim is to get him to lessen the number of strides he takes and if they remain the same, it means he is increasing his pace but not his stride.
Try to push the horse into your hand from your leg, so that there is a little more weight in your hand than is comfortable. You will not immediately achieve lengthened strides but with practice, you should have more power which, when combined with the use of your legs, will encourage the horse to lengthen his stride.
It is sometimes better to let a horse run round the arena a few times at his own pace before trying to focus his energy.
Most horses will begin to attempt to lengthen their stride after three or four attempts.
Never push your horse too much, as, in a similar manner to starting a car, he will need time to reach his maximum output and then time to slow down again.
Novice horses need four or five strides before they achieve a maximum extension and after it is held for two or three strides, will need another four or five paces to regain their natural balance.
More advanced horses only need a couple of steps before achieving their maximum extension and then back again.
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