How to perfect your collected trot

Riding advice

11 April 2008 16:03

Here’s how to ride the best collected trot with international dressage star Spencer Wilton.

As you’d expect collected trot is more collected than working trot, with shorter higher strides. This type of trot is introduced at Elementary level dressage. Spencer says: “Many people make the mistake of thinking collected trot is slower than working trot - but this isn’t the case. It’s a more engaged trot, where the emphasis is more on the hind legs. Your horse also needs to be balanced and working lightly between your hand and leg. “In collected trot you ride ‘up’ to the bit more. This means your horse changes his balance a little and shifts more of his weight on to his hindquarters - so he looks like he’s working more uphill.  “I like to start by working on getting a good collection between my hand and leg in walk first to prepare my horse for trot. Keeping a light seat, I always think to myself ‘I want him working so his hind legs step towards his front legs’.”  “The key to getting a good trot is your preparatory work” explains Spencer. “To get your horse working forwards and engaged from his hind legs, in a regular and well-balanced rhythm, he needs to be relaxed, supple and responsive.  “Spend time doing stretching warm-up exercises with your horse before asking him to really work in trot. Encourage him to stretch though his back, legs and neck by asking him to flex a little to the left and right. This will also help him to soften and accept the use of your hands. To ask him to stretch, lengthen your reins slightly and lower your hands, holding them a little lower than usual.

“Ride lots of transitions from walk to trot – by lots I mean at least 100 in a session. Transitions are a useful way to encourage your horse to take his weight onto his hind legs and step underneath his body – both important if you’re going to get a good collected trot. “Lateral exercises such as shoulder-fore and quarters-in are also good for helping with submission and straightness.”