Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stretch... or Don't

Cadence is extremely smart, and combine that with a good natural temperament and great instincts, you get a very trainable horse.  It took her two lunge sessions to master w/t/c, and three to add stand to that list.  Even when she halts on the lunge line, she always stands square, and if she knocks a fence down, she's unlikely to make the same mistake twice in a row.  Her ground manners have been nearly totally reformed, and she not only stands nicely while I groom her, but she backs up into the cross ties on command now too.  In addition, a lot of her original 'baby issues' that she had when I first started riding are either gone, or nearly there.  For example, she doesn't do that stopping thing when she's frustrated, she just sucks back a little now.  Also, her gaits have evened out, she comes onto the bit, is learning to bend, and the head throwing has totally stopped under saddle (except for occasionally after a jump).  In addition, she'll now follow my contact down, and do a beautiful stretch (and free walk) in the walk.  However, attempt that in the trot, and you get a head-in-the-air, rushing, unsteady mess.  We've been working for probably two weeks on this, and I feel like we aren't making any progress.  Generally the best time to attempt this is right after we've come back from a good, challenging canter.  However, we've only been able to hold a stretch for three strides at most, and that's pushing it.  It's a little frustrating, because she picks up everything so quickly... except this.  Also, I feel like its something that I don't really know how to teach her.  Aside from this, we're concentrating on getting her to bend and give, and keeping her straight and even.  Both of these are easier for me, as I have a clear idea of how to achieve this.  Also, the two are closely related and an exercise for one will benefit the other.  However, I feel like I'm at a total loss in regards to the stretching.
                                                               Any recommendations?
Sorry for the stream of complaints.  I feel like I'm going from gloating to poor me mode, so I apologize for it.


  1. She sounds wonderful, don't get discouraged, she won't learn everything at top speed. I find that to get a stretchy trot the horse has to be forward, in a rhythm, taking nice long strides and then they just elongate the body and stretch down without pitching on their forehand. If you don't have the impulsion or the rhythm, it won't work. It is also a trust issue for the horse to know that it is ok to take your hand forward and stretch down without being corrected. Try doing it in tiny stages, stretch forward and then down a little at a time. Always come back to the working trot so they maintain their balance while they are stretching and don't expect you to hold them up. It will come. It is harder for some horses than others.

  2. I think stretching is a very hard thing to teach some horses. Like Barbara said there is a trust issue involved there.