#SundaySchool: how to improve your horse’s medium trot

Follow grand prix dressage rider Anna Ross’ (pictured) tips for improving the medium trot in our new regular Sunday evening training feature

Aim

A good medium trot should be uphill and the hindlegs should come under the body to give impulsion.

For horses’ balance and development, it’s essential for them to learn to take the weight back on to the hindlegs.

This exercise uses the half walk pirouette to balance the horse and encourage him to “sit” and flex his hock joints in preparation for medium trot. This is a 180 ̊ turn in which the horse’s hindlegs lift up and down in a small circle. When your horse is learning, you can make the circle larger and half-pass back to the track if necessary, keeping the bend and the engagement.

Exercise

Step 1. Start on the track of the long side, approaching the corner at either the A or C end. As you go past the marker nearest the corner, collect the walk and keep it active. Start the walk pirouette before you reach the corner.

Step 2. Start the walk pirouette in shoulder-fore position, with your
weight slightly to the inside. Keep your outside leg on just behind the girth and encourage the horse to step forwards and sideways. At the start, think of riding a half-pass, and as the horse turns back towards the track, ride travers.

Step 3. When you get back to the track, move up into rising trot and then ask the horse to lengthen into medium trot, for no more than the length of two markers.

Step 4. Quietly bring the horse back to walk before the corner marker and then repeat the walk pirouette the other way.

Step 5. Repeat several times. If the horse is executing a balanced medium trot, then trot around the short side and try without the pirouette.

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Pitfalls

• In the pirouette, maintain the impulsion so the horse turns with even steps.
• Don’t allow the quarters to drift to the outside — keep the outside leg on and your shoulders following the movement.
• Don’t push the horse out of its rhythm and balance in the medium trot. If he starts to run, bring him back into the walk pirouette.

For more great dressage content, don’t miss the current issue of Horse & Hound magazine, out now (dated 7 February 2019), which features our dressage special