Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lengthenings: Not so elusive after all

Jean-Louis Sauvat draws Nuno Oliveira
From 2000 to 20005 or so, I mostly rode and competed Harv. We spent most or our time at First Level, and our nemesis was...

The trot lengthening
Harv tried, I know he did. I tried. I read articles on how to do a lengthening. I posted, I sat, I kicked, I squeezed. I  schooled it to death. Harv never turned down the diagonal where he didn't launch himself into a frenzied, tight-backed, but full-of-good-intensions (Freudian misspelling!) trot lengthening. Our scores? We may have gotten a 7 once, but usually we got a 6. I thought I sucked as a rider, because I could not do a good lengthening.

Well, guess what? 
On Riley, my green warmblood, I get powerful, suspended lengthenings and have since he was four. Every time. No skill or technique.  I don't ride any better than I ever did. Frankly all I do is kick. It's just what Riley produces when you send him forward.

For all of you thoroughbred owners, and I suppose all you warmblood owners, listen up! I hope you get good lengthenings, but if you don't, don't beat yourself up because your warmblood-riding friends produce slow, cadenced, ground-covering extensions. Warmbloods (most of'em I suspect) come out of the womb doing them -- it's how they're built, it's how they think. Some thoroughbreds have it, some riders are talented enough to train it, but not all horses produce it naturally and it's HARD to teach. Pat yourself on the back, pat your horse, and keep on truckin.'
OHARAS REFLECTION Pictures, Images and Photos


  1. freakin love that drawing (I am an artist myself, who does stuff similar to that!)

    I fretted woefully forever on lengthenings with my TB....we didnt have a hint of them till this year and even then they arent great. we DID get an 8 on our lengthen at the last show, but still, its SO HARD on a TB!

  2. Had an OTTB that just had a natural, beautiful lengthening. Lost him to colic and got my PJ who had in incredible trot but hardly ever would give it in the arena. Out on the!! I think his brain just needed the space.

    Glad to hear Riley has a natural one. Enjoy every stride and yes.. I do think it's bred into a good dressage horse.

  3. LOL at the inTENSIONS. :)

    I have mostly ridden my Hanoverian since I returned to riding and started studying dressage, but I rode a few school horses before I got him and have a QH now and I agree with you that many warmbloods just do lengthenings as par for the course. Keil Bay does them in the field and it is poetry in motion. All I need to do is stay balanced in the saddle and let him do what comes naturally to him. It's pretty incredible to ride.

  4. i have a rocky mountain spotted pony/dutch warmblood, unfortuanaty she inherited most of the warmblood personality without the warmblood extensions, i could ask all day long and never get anything. one of my trainers suggeted that she hadn't figured out that she "could" lengthen yet, so i took her out into a giant field and just big trotted around it for about a week before a car spooked her and she started to lengthen! after that i kept working on it and now she loves to lengthen, not sure that was helpful to anyone. but oh well XD

  5. Thanks for the insight! My 16 year old OTTB doesn't really lengthen either. He'll move forward with more energy and a bigger stride if I ask but doesn't do a true lengthening. Some horses naturally have it more than others. My friend's Tennessee Walking Horse has a gorgeous trot - much nicer than my TB! I never would have guessed it until I saw it.

  6. FYI the gesture drawing is by Jean-Louis Sauvat and the subject is Nuno Oliveira.

  7. My TB would get into his big trot if he got going really fast. He just hadn't learned to lengthen before I got him, and the collection is more natural to him than extension. (Funny to me for an OTTB!) For us, it has been all about shoulder in to lengthen in order to get his weight properly shifted. We still don't really have a "lengthening" though - more like a medium trot. Once he discovered he could make longer strides and that I was asking for energy, he went straight to medium. Now he just has to stay relaxed enough to get there at shows!

  8. Lenghthening comes from all joint articulation. A fabulous teacher of this technique is Charles DeKunnfy! Fortunately, for myself I have been riding with a fabulous student of his JJ Tate. If you can get to a clinic of hers or his you will unlock the secret to the lengthened trot guaranteed! :) JJ is located in Md. Charles in CA both do east coast and west coast clinics :)

  9. Just a shout out for a TB that could TB first learned to lengthen when I was jumping him and my instructor wanted him kept at a trot. He badly wanted to get to the jump, and suddenly all that forward energy appeared in the form of a huge lenthened trot. My trainer's jaw dropped, and ever since that day, you simply pointed him across the diagonal and gave the word and you were floating along with a huge slow rhythm. I felt like I was up in the air for hours when I posted it! He also had way more in the tank than I ever asked for.

    Ah, memories. Certainly a natural talent for my TB (and he loved doing the movement,so that helped), so I'm not so sure that the talent splits down WB/TB lines. I think its more a matter of build/type.

  10. My TB has a trot lengthening to die for. It just appears. Mostly it's a way for him to become more expressive without actually going faster. In contrast, my Trakehener was very reluctant to show off his lengthenings. I think he was just too laszy! The only horse I had who really had no lengthening was my QH. He tried his heart out but they just weren't there.


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