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Dressage: Getting Your Horse to Have a More Forward and Rhythmic Trot

Featured Image Credit (CC)Franz Venhaus on Flickr

Submitted by member: Tara

My horse makes it feel like sometimes I’m pushing a rope at the trot. How do I develop a rhythmic trot movement without constant kicking and clucking?

Answer by Verena Mahin

Motivating a horse can be tricky, but doable. A horse that’s lazy to the leg must learn to respect the leg…so instead of kicking and clucking the whole time, return to the walk and try a light squeeze from the calf. If nothing happens, swing both legs away from the horse and give a big, hearty, to-the-point-kick. With this, he should scoot forward immediately. Then bring him back to the walk and repeat; each time asking with a more sensitive leg aid, and expecting a bigger response.

The aim is to have the horse responding when your leg asks very light, and if he gives a lazy response, the rider “breaths” with the leg and the horse goes. He learns that if he doesn’t go, then a big kick will follow. This is a much better and kinder approach in the long run, rather then nagging him every stride and squeezing the life out of him. This will also give you the rhythm in the trot that you are searching for.

As a general rule: just like a hot horse requires a more supporting leg, a lazy horse must learn to respond from a much lighter breathing leg!

Happy riding 🙂

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Verena Mahin

Verena is the owner and trainer at the California based VS Dressage Inc. She has had many successes at FEI level, competing and coaching through Grand Prix. In 2011 she coached two riders representing Puerto Rico at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Verena clinics all over the country. Learn more about her and how to book a clinic at:

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