NEEDS TO BE MORE FORWARD
DRESSAGE JUDGE COMMENTS
Needs to be more forward
This comment is in the family of ‘needs more ground cover’, ‘not tracking up’, ‘needs more jump’, ‘more activity’, ‘lacking energy’ etc.
One of the biggest mistakes is to interpret this comment to mean 'faster'. Occasionally it can mean your horse’s tempo is too slow, however in general it means you need greater thrust from behind and greater ground cover.
‘My horse just doesn’t have a big stride’
It is easy to excuse yourself this way but it is very rare for a horse to not be able to track up unless they have physiological/soundness issues. In trot you can check to see if the hind leg hoof is landing in the hoof-print left by the front leg on the same side. This is called ‘tracking up’. If the hind leg hoof is not making it that far forward then you are under-tracking.
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How do I improve this?
The are two key areas you can improve to help the horse: the rider's position and rider's training methods.
Rider Position: As a rider you could be landing too heavy in the saddle, or too far back preventing the horse from lifting its back. If the horse’s back is tense or hollow then the hind legs struggle coming under sufficiently. You could also be doing a tiny rise in rising trot, which does not encourage the horse to make much of a jump from one diagonal pair of legs to the other.
In our courses we start by making sure the rider sits and uses their body in the most effective and balanced way, so that the horse can move in their best form.
Training Ideas: It is important to make sure that every leg aid you give gets a result. The well trained and comfortable horse is responsive to light aids. This can be improved using ground work and by being responsible for every single aid you give to the horse.
You can also try setting up some trotting poles and then progressing to raised trotting poles, with the aim of improving your horse’s jump and the length of the stride.
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