Now it is finally time to start working in the trot. It is time to find clean trot transitions and we start looking a bit more on the diagonals in shoulder in and quarter in. Here are also some tips on what to do when it does not go as planned.
When it works reasonable to longe in walk it is time to try it in trot. In the beginning it can be easier to just vocally urge the horse on into trot. Praise a lot when the horse starts trotting. Rather fast you want a special trot-signal, a voice command meaning trot. Some horses finds trotting easy and some find it difficulty. Especially gaited horses may find it difficult to find a clean trot in the beginning. To make it a bit easier you should know that trot and shoulder in are associated whereas canter and quarter in are associated.
…trot and shoulder in are associated whereas canter and quarter in are associated.
When start working on the trot, walk in a shoulder in to activate the inner hind leg properly. Then, while in shoulder in, you ask for a trot transition. Help the horse to keep the pace. Say it out loud to yourself, 1-2-12, pace-pace-pace, whatever word you want to say but do say it out loud so you can hear it yourself. By hearing the pace it will be easier to maintain it in your body. In the pace of the lifting of the inner hind leg you may add an impulse with the whip to make the pace even clearer. To clarify even more you may also start “trotting” on your spot, in the pace of the trot. If I start jogging on my spot I can clearly keep the trot pace but this I only do in the trot transition and I am not jogging along in the longeing. That will easily make you tired and when you are tired you lose your concentration and ability to give and receive fine signals. Don’t forget to turn your whole body and ask for shoulder in. Turn your direction forward, so that you are looking in the direction of motion. Your outer shoulder and your outer leg will get closer to the horse and simultaneously you invite the outer shoulder by turning your inner shoulder and leg away from the horse, just as when longeing in walk.
Common problems to encounter in this stage is the horse is not actually moving out its inner hind leg but just walk along as if nothing was changed. Then you have to be a bit more insisting with the whip and make sure the inner hind leg is actually moving out. It is not ok for the horse to ignore your aids. It does not have to do it correctly, but it has to try. This is really super important! You do not want to teach the horse it is ok to ignore you, but be very, very meticulous to get an answer when giving an aid. Maybe the horse is just running away instead of moving the inner hind leg out? Then take an impulse in the longe line and ask the inner leg to move out. If you do not succeed in trot then slow down to walk and do it. This will clarify what you want to the horse and then you can try in trot again.
It is not uncommon for the horse to move the hind legs out, while simultaneously falling on the outside shoulder, ie the whole horse is drifting out. It is extremely easy to start pulling on the longe line to get the shoulders in, but it pulling the longe line will only cause the horse to overbend its neck. It is the shoulders you should move inward, and we know this is moved by placing the whip on the outer shoulder (over the withers). Does it not work? Maybe the horse is just running around you as an over bent cucumber och drift outwards more and more? Slow down to walk and try to move the shoulders inwards. Still doesn’t work? Slow down to a halt and move the shoulders in. Find the tempo where the exercise is working. You may have to repeat this hundreds of times, but just patiently show the way and eventually you will make it.
Find the tempo where the exercise is working.
Then ask for a shoulder in in walk and again try a transition into trot. Move the inner hind leg out and ask the outer shoulder to move inwards if it is falling out. First the hind legs need to be in place and then you can focus on the shoulders. To start focusing on the shoulders to get them inwards usually just leads to hind legs no longer stepping in towards the point of weight and you definitely always want to focus on getting the “engine” started (hind legs moving toward the point of weight) and then you can focus on the steering (shoulders in front of hind legs).
Now it is time to discuss the diagonals a bit. In shoulder in the inner hind leg and outer shoulder is the important diagonal and in the quarter in the important diagonal is the outer hind leg and inner shoulder. When doing these exercises you have to work with the hind leg and front leg alternatively. In shoulder in I first ask the inner hind leg to step toward the point of weight and work more actively, then I move the whip towards the outer shoulder and ask it to step inwards. Then maybe I need another impulse on the inner hind leg and then asking the outer shoulder to step inwards again. I alternatively work the hind leg and shoulder. Try to see the whole horse and how it is placed. Is it in between the aids or is some part sticking out? Use the aid you need to place the horse in between the aids.
In shoulder in the inner hind leg and outer shoulder is the important diagonal and in the quarter in the important diagonal is the outer hind leg and inner shoulder.
When you can start trotting and keep the trot for some circles it is time to try the quarter in. In quarter in we focus on the diagonal outer hind leg and inner shoulder. Do not forget to turn your own body, now looking more in the direction of the haunches. Your inner shoulder and your inner leg move closer to the horse and move the shoulders outwards and your outer shoulder and leg move away from the horse and ask the hind legs to move towards you. Just like for the shoulder in, if your horse is ignoring your aid and do not move the outer hind leg inward, slow down to a walk or if needed to a halt. Move the hind legs and walk a few steps. Make a new trot transition and again try to move the hind legs inwards.
As you become more comfortable in the trot you can work on getting softer and finer transitions between shoulder in and quarter in, and a rounder shape. You can ask for a bit of collection (angle your pelvis and possibly lift your rein hand a bit) and a bit of extension (normal pelvis, move your point of weight a bit forward) in trot. Work with soft change of hands and investigate how small signals you can use and still get an answer from the horse.
- Shoulder in and trot are associated and quarter in and canter are associated.
- Shoulder in – the diagonal inner hind leg and outer shoulder.
- Quarter in – the diagonal outer hind leg and inner shoulder.
- Ask for a trot transition from a shoulder in and be careful to keep the pace.