Ginny’s tips to shortern strides

  • When HHO offered our users the chance to ask eventing guru Ginny Elliot for advice on problems they are currently experiencing the response was incredible.

    Unfortunately there was only one place in Ginny’s new Eventing Club up for grabs and Ginny has chosen Vickie Weston of Bicester, Oxon as the lucky winner.

    Vickie has been eventing at pre-novice level for two seasons and recently purchased a 16.3 IDXTB eventer named Winston, who she hopes to progress with up to one-star competitions.

    Adjusting strides

    “I bought Winston in August and competed at three pre-novice events towards the end of this season, being placed first and third. Winston has now won two pre-novice classes so we will have to compete in novice or open pre-novice classes next season.

    “Winston has beautiful movement and regularly scores 70% or more in the dressage. My problem is his huge stride, which can lead us into difficulty at combinations when he needs to think more quickly with his feet. I also need to feel more confident that I am placing him correctly.

    “What exercises would you recommend I do over the winter to help get Winston sharper and quicker thinking in front?”

    Ginny says . . .

    Thank you for your question Vickie. Here are three exercises that are useful when teaching a horse to shorten its stride. I hope you will find them useful.

    Exercise one

    Set up canter poles on the ground so the horse steps over a pole every stride for five strides in a straight line. The exact distance between the poles will depend on your horse’s natural stride. The horse should take even strides over all five poles. Ride over these until the horse is comfortable and relaxed.

    Gradually shorten the distance between the poles so that the horse canters for five shortened strides. This does not necessarily need to take place in the same schooling session. It is important that the horse remains calm and relaxed during the exercise.

    Exercise two

    Increase the distance between the poles to allow for one normal stride between the poles. Place blocks, starting with the lowest level under each of the five canter poles. Gradually decrease the distance between the poles so the horse begins to shorten its stride.

    Exercise three

    Build a series of small bounces set out as for the first exercise. The distance should be comfortable for the horse but shorter than his normal jumping stride.

    These exercises can be used to both teach the horse how to shorten his stride but also as a regular reminder.

    All the best for the event season next year.


    Don’t miss Ginny’s top tips to help combat other problems sent in by HHO users, which will be published on the site during the next few weeks.

    The Ginny Elliot Eventing Club

    Ginny Elliot’s new Eventing Club is aimed at grass roots competitors, competing at intro, pre-novice and novice level.

    Members will receive expert advice from one of eventing’s most successful riders and trainers through virtual course walks and training articles. Members can also contact Ginny directly to discuss training their horses and talk through any competition problems they are experiencing.

    For more information visit: www.ginnyelliot.com

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