In our more for you masterclass session, we discover how Amy and Fizz improve their medium trot with Sabrina’s RSVP exercise. Sabrina recommends you try this exercise after the two exercises mentioned in the British Horse magazine (September 2017).
Like many horses, Fizz delivers a better medium trot after she’s worked through her canter work. On the left rein in trot, I ask Amy to make a 20m half circle from V. As she starts to hit the track at P Amy asks Fizz to go into medium trot until R before turning onto another 20m half circle. As she hits the track at S she repeats the medium trot to V. As she repeats this exercise you can see a kind of oval shape appears.
I find many riders drop the horse off the bridle when asking for any type of lengthening so I encourage Amy to continue the medium trot through the half circle. To ensure Amy maintains the connection between the hind leg and the contact I ask her to sit taller and lift her chest out whilst her elbows stay close to her side. This enables Amy’s upper body to be light and straight while the stability of the elbows enables her to maintain a consistent contact in her hands.
I remind Amy that it’s important for the seat to remain light – too often I see riders sit too heavy within the seat when asking for any lengthening which can hinder the horse. With Amy’s seat now being lovely and light she finds it easier to use her legs to encourage Fizz into a good contact whilst Fizz’s paces start to lengthen. At this point I remind Amy to follow the lengthening with her hands allowing Fizz the freedom to move more freely into the medium trot.
When doing medium trot it’s important to keep the rhythm the same whilst the horse produces bigger longer strides without losing their balance. I find if a horse is struggling with lengthening, pushing them through the half circle and even more down the long side helps them realise they can open up and produce some lengthened strides. When Fizz hurries a little I encourage Amy to push through this. Too often riders stop as soon as it gets a little hurried and they never break through the barrier.
Many horses push from behind when lengthening but they don’t always get their front up. I have found if you gently tap some horses on the shoulder in rhythm with the trot it helps encourage them to lift their upper arm and open the shoulder.
By the end of the session I’m very happy with Fizz’s medium trot which is balanced and rhythmical. I ask Amy to reward Fizz and to start their cool down. Amy and Fizz have responded well to these exercises and I’ve seen a marked improvement from the start of the lesson.
Note this exercise can be done in a 20m x 40m by simply doing the 20m half circles at the top of the arena and the medium trot on the long side.
Sabrina Jones has been a Fellow of the BHS since 1998. She not only coaches and trains all levels but she is also Chairman of the BHS Advisory Committee for Qualifications and Training. Sabrina has extensive competition experience in dressage, showjumping and eventing and has represented Great Britain. She is also a BE Accredited Trainer.
Have a lesson with Sabrina
Sabrina offers dressage and jumping training to nervous, novice and experienced riders as well as assessment training to all levels. She is willing to travel. Find more information and contact details for Sabrina on our website.
At 18 years old Amy Struthers is aspiring to make horses her career having just completed her A levels and passed her Ride Safe Award. She has evented up to 2* level and is looking to complete her Stage 3 Coach in Complete Horsemanship shortly before moving onto Stage 4. Fizz is a fabulous five-year old British-bred Warmblood and was bought as a two-year old.