Charlie is a successful grand prix dressage rider and trainer who has represented Great Britain at junior, young rider and senior levels. Raised at the Talland School of Equitation, Charlie now runs his own competition yard and coaches internationally.
Not all horses can do a medium trot and score a 10. But most can learn to do the best they are capable of for a decent mark. Teaching your horse to take the weight onto his hindlegs is my solution for horses who run onto the forehand or won’t go forward.
The key is to train your horse to have a basic connection and to be straight in his body. Without these prerequisites, he will not be in balance and will either run onto his front end or get behind your leg.
Tackling the issue
While I do a lot of preparation, as outlined in the following paragraphs, I don’t often ride medium trot outside of competition. Follow these steps to try it at home…
1. Work on an inner track and do some walk-trot-walk transitions. Be vigilant about keeping your horse straight and active. Keep your leg on in the transitions (both up and down), if necessary, to encourage the horse’s hindlegs to reach underneath him.
2. When you can do this without your horse losing his balance or going crooked, ride the transitions on the diagonal.
3. Adjust the pace within the trot — open it out and then bring it back to encourage the hindlegs to come under your horse’s body — riding into the corners helps to shift his bodyweight back onto the hindlegs and to create greater impulsion.
4. Recognise when your horse is out of his comfort zone and don’t go to that point. If he is not particularly athletic, he may break into canter rather than push with his hindlegs. Should that happen, it becomes important to spend more time on the transition work.
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Dressage rider Anand Patel offers advice on encouraging the horse to work from the quarters into an elastic contact
Sarah Millis (pictured), an international dressage rider, explains how you can improve the quality and rhythm of the trot by
- Don’t push your horse out of his natural rhythm. Aim for the best he can do within his limits — it’s better to have a good tempo than get marked down for “running”.
- If your horse struggles with straightness, it can impact the medium trot. To address this, ride 10m trot circles with lots of rein changes.
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