Welshie dressage. Collected canter and med trot help

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I have a 14 yr old sec d mare who's dressage is going from strength to strength - we're now competing at ele and tbh there's lots more in there. However, we are being seriously hampered as, despite my best efforts over the last couple of years, we STILL have no med trot. I have had advice from the top (you couldn't find anyone higher than this person in the dressage world) and my regular trainer is a GP rider herself yet the med trot is still terrible. She just runs along on the forehand. I've tried what feels like everything. So now need to think outside the box ! Same for collected canter too, though this is a more recent challenge for us. We can collect the trot and we vaguely have trot half steps,but collected canter seems alien to her. I think once we get these hocks underneath her there will be no stopping her. But getting them underneath is proving tricky. Any slightly more unusual tips that i not be already be aware of?
 

ester

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I've called the welshie queen ;)

are you asking for too much in the trot? On the trying everything have you ridden with another horse that can? Re the canter I think the best thing that worked for us was riding squares instead of circles.
 
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I've called the welshie queen ;)

are you asking for too much in the trot? On the trying everything have you ridden with another horse that can? Re the canter I think the best thing that worked for us was riding squares instead of circles.
Thank you. Will try those
 

milliepops

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is she one of those knees-up types of welshies, or does she have more 'normal' ;) movement? I think the ones that tend towards knees-up type of movement can be harder as they are the ones that are more inclined to storm along on their heads, you might need to think towards passage to teach her to push up and reach out , think AlexHyde has done similar with her fresian/hackney x

Mine is much more earthbound and for her, I found that I had to almost make her run ("like roadrunner" was how it was described the first time I was shown this by dressage royalty) until she figured out there was another way to trot that wasn't just scrabbling. They need to find the point of lift off, and then you get something you can improve on :) As ester says it can be helpful to try this out hacking up a small incline with another horse, if you have a big school you can just do laps ;) my school at home is 30 x 40 which is a good shape for roadrunnering ;) as you can round off the corners easily.

Also think about the response you get when you ask. This is something that has to be taught as much as the ability to do a long diagonal in lengthened strides. You can practice the responsiveness needed by just doing a little on/a little back and repeating several times down the long side to coil the horse back on its hindlegs and get those pushing like pistons instead of trailing out behind. And keeping the balance as you come back is just as important.

Have you got as far as teaching shoulder-in? Some horses find it easier to get the right balance to lengthen from a small shoulder-in, it helps to keep the hindlegs engaged rather than pushing them onto the forehand. Only a small angle though, otherwise you make it too difficult to be beneficial.
If you have half steps, have you tried getting them really really punchy and then pushing forward into an uphill trot? I can use half steps to get mine really on her hindlegs and bubbling over, then it's just like taking the brake off and off we go.

will draw some thoughts on canter presently :)
 

ester

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see when you post then I nod/remember ;) we definitely did our fair share of roadrunnering, and I think I'd always at least shoulder fore before asking on the diagonal. A lot of the stuff we'd struggled with for a good while definitely because easier in a bigger (25x55) arena even though I schooled in a field at home that was significantly bigger, combo of more definite edges but more space to work on it before you hit the end I guess.
 

milliepops

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OK re collected canter, what's the working and medium canter like in general? will give you a clue about what the biggest difficulties are in collection. I have found collection in general and particularly in canter has been primarily a strength issue. Mine had a gigantic and awfully unbalanced un-connectable canter in the early days and I had to ride it quite forward to keep her balance. It's now her best pace but it has taken time, strength and also very importantly, straightness.

Without good straightness, even if you can get the hindlegs underneath they just push the horse over one shoulder or the other and then it's very hard to develop collection. So I'd be really critical about that for a bit, do some work including transitions into a mirror and see if she is jumping or pushing one way or the other (mine goes left in transitions if I'm not focussed on it, and so she also goes left in tempis now.. same problem coming back) quite important to either have a mirror or a friend to watch as you won't always be aware that it's happening until you really get them super straight.

Is she quick off the ground or does she slow the footfalls if you ask for any collection? Mine naturally tends to hang in the air and get slower, so she has had to learn to push off the ground faster while taking smaller steps. If yours is struggling to stay engaged I would guess she may be the same? I have done lots of work adjusting the canter on/back and used circles to help remind her to stay quick, it's really easy to feel the steps slowing down around a 10m circle for example, so you can get after the horse to stay quick as well as small ;) I find a quick tap with the outside leg helps to keep her jumping quickly around.

Basic frequent transitions between trot/canter can really help with engagement, if you can add in canter/walk/canter that can help to develop their balance too as you can teach them not to collapse in a heap in a downward transition. I find it useful to ride those on small circles rather than across the school, that way you can stop the canter from getting long and strung out.

Would ask again about how developed the lateral work is, shoulder-fore on a circle is also a good way to get the hindlegs to step underneath in a way that you can help to avoid them either running or dropping on the forehand.

As ester said, squares can be really good, i ride off the track so I can gauge the straightness without the wall influencing things ;)
and again, depending on your horse, I canter out of half steps sometimes which means she's already sitting and pushing, and then the canter is easy and small already ;)

As I said, mine really had to get strong for this but now we can canter at walking speed and I'm just about getting decent pirouettes (on a good day, with a fair wind etc ;) )
 

milliepops

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see when you post then I nod/remember ;) we definitely did our fair share of roadrunnering, and I think I'd always at least shoulder fore before asking on the diagonal. A lot of the stuff we'd struggled with for a good while definitely because easier in a bigger (25x55) arena even though I schooled in a field at home that was significantly bigger, combo of more definite edges but more space to work on it before you hit the end I guess.
I think both horses and rider back off when heading towards a wall so I rarely ride diagonals when teaching a horse to lengthen, it's also easier to keep their balance if you keep going on the same rein rather than keep changing.
I used to have access to a big setaside field on a slight slope that was fab for teaching lengthening, you could on/back/on/back until the horse was pulling nicely into the contact and then go for it until they figured out how to really push.
 
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This is all great advice.

Can I ask...when testing riding and you are asked to change the diagonal in medium trot, when would you start preparing for the medium please?

For example, if medium trot is supposed to start at H to P, then when does the prep start normally?
 

AlexHyde

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So defo what MP said for collected canter and also if you have a more earth bound trot.

However, if you have a lovely 'special' ;) moving horse like mine, that prefers to wave her knees about up round her ears then this is our route. We had no medium trot until Medium level so you're in good company and I will say don't let it hold you back, med/ extended trots are generally 2 movements and never double marks, so do your best and move on!

It took a change of trainer and out of the box thinking for mine, as we had sit, hind legs underneath, we had SI, we even had passage, what we didn't have was the reflex to flick the front legs out (so the exact opposite of all those lovely front leg waving horses dressage folk get het up under the collar about ;)). So, we asked for a good passage, hocks under and pushing, then asked her to go and tapped her on the shoulder with the whip to encourage her to flick her front leg out and not bring it up. It is still a work in progress but we're getting there, I had been to loads of trainers before this was suggested, and I think unless the trainer has had a horse who completely doesn't 'get' extensions then it's a bit of a head-scratcher in how to teach a horse to do it.
 

AlexHyde

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This is all great advice.

Can I ask...when testing riding and you are asked to change the diagonal in medium trot, when would you start preparing for the medium please?

For example, if medium trot is supposed to start at H to P, then when does the prep start normally?
I would prepare in the corner of the short side, get the horse straight on the diagonal and then ask. If riding at novice and it is 'some strides of medium' then I would aim to have them in medium over X and then prepare the transition down before the end of the diagonal, Elementary and above the transitions need to be at the very start and end of the diagonal and your corners are there to re-balance you :).
 
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Brilliant advice here. Thank you all.
I already do the roadrunner thing and she does just run. It's ugly. Do you just literally go flat out ? I always collect her on the short sides then let her go on the long sides. I try tapping her behind my leg and she goes faster, try tapping her outside shoulder, she goes faster. Give her her head, she lifts it, hollows and runs faster, keep the contact, we barely move out of working trot. Tried doing a smallish circle before asking for the med, tried half steps before asking for med, tried going from A to H (cutting off the corner) JLC herself suggested this one. I'm sure there's lots more I've tried too. This has been a 2 year WIP and I'm desperate now. Oh - we have twice yearly physio and nothing is ever picked up that would cause this. She's a true 'knees up' Welshie so it was interesting to read comments on this and to know we're not alone. You've all given me a few more suggestions for me to work on so thank you for those.
 
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AlexHyde

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I'd really push on with teaching her to collect, Topaz could only truly extend once she could sit and push it upwards properly (not just bouncing ;)), then we could turn it into a suspended forward stride and then we could ask the forelimb to go forwards too.

It takes a lot of time, a lot of on and back and loads of strength training before you can get there, but you CAN get there :). This is my little knees up dragon:

Starting point and a properly rubbish picture, what am I doing :oops::eek:


To this year training at home:
 

AlexHyde

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Yep this is mine. Can you elaborate on the strength training.
Anything that will strengthen the hind end and core :).

Pole work, hill work, transitions (100's of transitions, either in the pace 'on and back' or though the gaits), for Topaz working in canter a lot also helps, then you can work on building the collected work and then being able to sustain it. Variety is great, I jump my girls as well and this seems to give them extra fitness and strength, plus they love it,
 
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Anything that will strengthen the hind end and core :).

Pole work, hill work, transitions (100's of transitions, either in the pace 'on and back' or though the gaits), for Topaz working in canter a lot also helps, then you can work on building the collected work and then being able to sustain it. Variety is great, I jump my girls as well and this seems to give them extra fitness and strength, plus they love it,
Ok - were doing all that (except the jumping) and her field has a steep hill so we're on the right lines. Thanks for that
 

milliepops

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Brilliant advice here. Thank you all.
I already do the roadrunner thing and she does just run. It's ugly. Do you just literally go flat out ? I always collect her on the short sides then let her go on the long sides. I try tapping her behind my leg and she goes faster, try tapping her outside shoulder, she goes faster. Give her her head, she lifts it, hollows and runs faster, keep the contact, we barely move out of working trot.
just picking up on these bits. if you are going for the roadrunner approach you have to commit to it and not keep pulling them up. It takes some types a while to figure out there is something other than a running trot, that there is a pushing, ground covering stride as well, and if you pull up on the short side every time then they don't have long enough to experiment with what they are doing to come up with another answer. It's not the solution for every horse, and it's best combined in the same session with some on/back reactivity to get the positive pulling contact first. Just adding that in case anyone else finds it useful.

Re the contact thing. I think you need to solve this before you'll be able to get any real lengthening, she needs to learn that feeling the contact does not mean she should not go forward, she needs to pull positively forward though your hand ideally :) Throwing the contact away will mean all the energy she does have is evaporating. Small differences on and back in the trot can really help with this.

My WB is a bit one-size fits all in her trot at the moment (she has a fab passage naturally but under saddle is like a 4yo), but has learnt the idea of lengthening by me sitting her back momentarily and then sending her on, it develops the contact and is teaching her to be adjustable, she had to come back to almost dawdling first, in order to learn the idea as she really couldn't lengthen from working trot to start with, but could happily go from dawdle to working trot. Now I can just half halt and "on" . she *IS* one I've taught on the diagonals because I needed her to anticipate something to get her thinking, so now she thinks going on a long diagonal is a cue for zoomies :D
 
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Love the 'roadrunner' analogy! We do this, referred to by my trainer as 'freewheeling'! Cut the corners on the short sides!

Mine is not a welshie but I struggled for years to find a medium trot. It honestly wasn't until we were competing medium level that it clicked into place! We had got to a point where we were really struggling and stressing about it so I honestly just left it alone for over a year and cracked on with the lateral work and collection.

Then a combination of freewheeling in the school and out hacking meant she suddenly learnt she could move through her shoulder! We did a couple of long distance rides trotting on beautiful headlands side by side with another horse which was a revelation.
 
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I love the 'roadrunner' analogy. Mine used to do similar but we always called it a 'trotters' trot which was also very fast (we think she pulled a cart at one time as she did her very fast trotters trot very much on her forehand). However, after lots of strengthening work, slowing and collecting up her trot and getting her to lift her shoulders through lateral work and also pole work she has now actually started to get some medium trot although it is still better if poles are involved, lol. Very much a work in progress still, though. But she is 28 (and I'm in my 60's) so we are only learning all this dressage stuff now with an instructor for fun.
 
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So glad I saw this thread. My TB and I have struggled for years and we get hammered with fives for our attempt. He runs and I was starting to tink it was never going to happen but after reading this I am excited to get back on board and try some new ways. Thank you
 
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