How to Ride Medium Trot
Some horses have a really good natural medium trot, whilst others take time to develop the pace.
It’s a real mark-winner in dressage tests if you can perform it well, so is well-worth practising at home where it can also be used to enhance your horse’s other work.
Read on to find out what the dressage judge is looking for in a good medium trot, together with advice on how you can conjure one out of your horse!
Medium trot – what the judge is looking for
Medium trot appears for the first time in British Dressage novice dressage tests where just a few strides must be shown across the diagonal line.
From British Dressage elementary level upwards, medium trot is required to be shown ridden from marker to marker, either across the diagonal line, down the long side of the arena, around a 20 metre circle, or up the centre line in more advanced tests.
Medium trot is a pace of moderate lengthening. Whilst maintaining a round frame and working over his back to the contact, the horse should clearly lengthen his stride to cover more ground.
Although working with good impulsion, he should not hurry or lose rhythm and must remain in a good uphill balance. The horse’s frame should lengthen so that he carries his head slightly in front of the vertical.
You can ride medium trot rising or sitting up to and including British Dressage medium level.
It’s recommended that you use rising trot at these lower levels to reduce the risk of your horse tightening through his back and to maximise his ability to use his back muscles and shoulders.
Common faults in the medium trot
- ‘running’ – the horse doesn’t lengthen his stride at all but just hurries out of balance
- breaking into canter instead of lengthening the stride
- hollowing the frame and coming above the bit as he loses balance
- losing balance onto the forehand
- failing to show clear transitions in and out of the medium trot – ‘fading’
- increasing in tempo (speed of the rhythm)
- flicking the toe, rather than lengthening the whole stride
Medium trot as a schooling tool
Medium trot can be a useful schooling tool.
Use medium steps to refresh the working trot if it becomes a little flat, and develop the horse’s hind leg carrying power by incorporating transitions in and out of medium trot.
Riding shoulder-in to medium trot and back again also helps to develop suppleness and engagement.
If your horse struggles to show a natural medium trot under saddle, it can be possible to teach him on the lunge without the weight of a rider to contend with.
Pole work can also be a useful teaching tool, but don’t place the poles too far apart to begin with as your horse could trip and injure himself.
How to ride medium trot
The preparation for the medium trot is the most important part of the exercise.
If your horse is not balanced and engaged, he will fall onto his forehand, break into canter or lose the rhythm as he attempts to lengthen his stride.
- Apply a half-halt to get your horse’s attention and engage his hind leg. Contain the energy your leg has created through the half-halt with your hand.
- If riding the medium trot across the diagonal or down the long side of the school, make sure your horse is straight and working into an even contact.
- Slowly ease your hand forward and apply your legs to allow the horse to move forward and uphill into the medium trot. The transition should be smooth; don’t ‘fire’ the horse abruptly across the school!
- Allow with your hand so that the horse can lengthen his whole frame, not just his stride.
- Use another half-halt to bring the horse smoothly back to working/collected trot. Keep your leg on so that he doesn’t fall onto his forehand, and be careful to maintain the rhythm.
If you’re lucky, your horse will have a good natural medium trot that he will happily offer you ‘for free’.
If not, you’ll need to work on developing the pace using the guidelines above. Don’t aim for too much at first, and build up the number of strides gradually as your horse begins to understand what you’re asking him for.
- How to Encourage Your Horse to be More Forward, But Not Faster
- The Scales of Training: Scale 1 – Rhythm
- How to Ride the (Nearly) Perfect Dressage Test
- About the Horse’s Trot Gait
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