Extended trot is when the horse is at the full length of his stride, covering as much ground as possible. While maintaining cadence, the horse’s frame will lengthen with his weight being taken back onto the quarters while his forehand lifts. It should feel like a surge of power, but with the horse remaining light in your hand.
To improve your extended trot:
1. Think laterally
Exercises like leg yield and shoulder-in are good preparation as they encourage the horse to engage his hindlegs while preventing him from running through the bridle. They also help improve elasticity – vital to really open up his frame.
2. Less is more
Only ask for a three or four extended strides at a time initially and then ask the hose to shorten again. This will prevent him falling onto his forehand, instead helping him to sit onto his quarters.
3. Mark the difference
Make sure you can show a clear change from medium to extended. Practise asking for and returning from extended trot at set points. Avoid asking for extension straight out of a corner as in a test, it will be difficult for the judge to see a transition.
4. Keep control
If a horse gets too fast or the rider loses control during extended trot, he can get overexcited and boil over. Prevent this by regularly asking for slower transitions both within and between paces.