Trotting up hills is a great way to teach your horse to open up his shoulders, and will help him understand what he’s supposed to do.

Medium and extended trot both have to be mastered if you want to go up the levels in dressage. And it’s easier than you think.

Some horses can naturally lengthen their stride, so if yours is one of them, then when you’re preparing to ride your first Novice test (where medium trot is required for the first time), you shouldn’t have much trouble.

Others may need a bit more help, but you should find that most horses will happily oblige once they understand what you’re asking them to do.

But before you start to teach your horse how to lengthen his trot stride, here’s a reminder of what the trot is and how the horse should move in trot.

The trot: defined
The trot is a two-time pace where the horse moves his legs in diagonal pairs, plus there’s a moment of suspension when all four legs are off the ground.

Ideally – and essentially at the higher levels – the horse should work in good, uphill balance with his hindlegs stepping well under his body. He should be supple through his topline and seeking a rein contact.

If your horse’s trot doesn’t feel up to scratch, don’t panic. Here are some common trot problems we encounter, with some simple solutions, too. I find they work well for my horses, so give them a go.

The hills are alive
If you have access to a long, not- too-steep hill, then use it to your advantage.

Take a light seat, but don’t give the rein away, and don’t allow your horse to fall onto the forehand.

You should find your horse naturally reaches with his stride more than he would on flat ground, so encourage him.

Or if you have a friend who has a horse with an established medium trot, trot up the hill beside them and watch your horse really open up!

In conjunction with Horse&Rider Magazine.

Trot poles can help you build a blockbuster medium and extended trot, says Richard Davison

Pole work, used with care, is a great way to persuade a horse to lengthen his stride. However, use poles carefully because you need to ensure you don’t overdo things too soon, as this can knock a horse’s confidence.

Note It’s crucial to have someone on the ground to help you with pole work and raised pole work for horses.

Use square poles rather than round ones, as they won’t roll if your horse stand on one.


Tom & Egano Star over raised trot poles

Trot poles
Start with three poles set approximately 1.3m (4.5ft) apart, although you will need to adapt the distances to suit your horse.

Ride over the poles several times, on both reins, and once your horse is completely comfortable with the distance, ask your helper to roll them out, just an inch at a time, until your horse has to reach a little to make the next distance.

However, I can’t stress enough how important it is to do this gradually and not to overdo the distances.

Build on this exercise by raising one end of the poles onto small blocks, as shown here. This helps the horse to develop more cadence and lift in his trot, so you get a flashy, not flat, medium trot.

In conjunction with Horse&Rider Magazine.

Author: Tom Davison
Email: [email protected]