A Quick Lunge and Ride - Working On the Trot

I was sitting having coffee with a dressage friend a couple of weeks ago and was chatting about Rogo's trot having deteriorated and how I was working on it. She said to me, "well you have to go back and get it", in a very immediate and almost bewildered way. There was absolutely no hesitation in knowing it needed to be done, and I think, although kind, she wondered if I understood how important this basic piece was and that I just couldn't go further without it. I did know, but until she said it I think I thought if we just kept working along, knowing it needed some focus, that it would come. I'm so thankful she said it because it made me realize it needed to be solidly ingrained, NOW, no ifs, ands of buts. My long time teacher Joan hasn't been able to work with me in a while.
So since that conversation I've been more aware of that being #1. We do free lunging over poles, free jumping, me running with him, lots of walk trot transitions, etc.
Yesterday, for the second time in a few days, I lunged Rogo and really focused on forwardness in the trot. I want a nice working trot, and after a fair warm up, I want it when I ask, not five minutes later. He is getting more forward and responsive. We did lots of walk trot transitions and then I rode, doing the same thing. We only did walk and trot, and practiced lots of forwardness, bending and transitioning back to walk and up again. I felt like I was starting at the beginning of his training again, and was surprised at how weak these basic moves were when I paused to really isolate them and focus on them.
When he realized I was going to ask for a trot after only a few walk steps he decided he'd just slow the trot. Although I insisted on getting what I asked for, speeding up and slowing down the trot can be helpful too.We used to do this with Joan and it worked very well, wonders in fact. Cheryl doesn't do this, but I think I'll start practicing it on my own.
I discovered a great little trick for getting a good halt while we were doing this. When he's trotting and I ask for a walk, he's expecting to trot again immediately, so when I give the halt aid after one walk step he is instantly in a square, engaged halt - I love it!
This is taking time, but it's time well spent and it has to be done. It needs a lot more work but I think it's coming. I could put spurs on and get there faster, but I've set a goal to get my legs stronger this winter and it won't happen if I start using spurs for a crutch. I'll use them eventually as an aid, but not until everything is working adequately without them.


Oak Creek Ranch said…
You are right to take your time. My trainer's motto is "precision through patience." I love her approach. We are patient and take whatever amount of time it takes to get the basics before moving on. I don't ask for more (deeper, more impulsion) until Jackson is relaxed and accurate. It's been a huge change for me (in a good way). I've always rushed onto the next thing. Be patient. It will come back. I promise.
Hurricanes12 said…
i read pippa funnel's autobiography and she always keeps bringing up the basics, and how you can't move forward without proper, solid foundations. i'm sure rogo will be back like he was in no time, he seems like a smart horse :)

and i love how you got the halts engaged by doing lots of walk-trot transitions to keep him thinking forward. will definitely try that one!
Amy said…
Sounds like you guys had a great break through! That is awesome!
My trainer always reminds me, when we find a sticky place or get bogged down, to go back to something we can both do well. This strategy works within a ride, but also I think for training schedules. I've come to find that you have to be very flexible combining schedules and horses.

Ride the horse you have today!
Lexa said…
Sometimes going back to basics is the only thing that needs to be done. Good luck on strengthening your legs!
juliette said…
I like your plan of taking your time and going back when necessary. That always is kinder to the horse. That way they are beside you on this journey rather than "running to keep up". The spurs vs. strengthened legs is a perfect example of having a willing partner rather than the opposite.
Achieve1dream said…
Don't you love when friends point out the obvious because we're too close to the situation to see the big picture? Those are the greatest friends. :D It sounds like you're doing some great work getting the basics back. :)
Jan said…
Carol, Good work on the trot! Sometimes having a focused intention on something helps enormously. Good work, Rogo!