For Want of a 12-Foot Stride

Since starting Hannah under saddle 3 years earlier, I have actually been eager her to either shrink or grow. A few inches shorter and she ‘d be an incredibly expensive huge pony. A few inches taller and she would be the 3’6″ hunter I visualized when I bred her.
Dr. Hilary Clayton suggests riding your steed round and with an upward feel to enhance the suspension stage of his or her stride.
Picture: Courtesy Alexandra Beckstett
Unfortunately, having simply turned 6 a few weeks back, she’s holding stable at 15 hands, which in the hunter world is a bit like the kiss of death. As my trainer suches as to state, “She’s half an equine.”.
But I’m sticking with what I’ve got. Hannah, with her compact frame, is unbelievably well balanced (hurray for automatic lead modifications!). And her small stature implies she provides an outstanding effort over every jump. To hold our own in the show ring versus “the big steeds,” nevertheless, we have to have the ability to canter down the lines in the exact same variety of strides as they do.
Get in stride-lengthening workouts.
Since I declined one fitness instructor’s recommendation to inject everything from Hannah’s casket joints to her hocks and stifles (to which my veterinarian laughed and rolled her eyes) in order to get a couple more inches out of her canter, it’s up to me to enhance and condition her to reach a bit further with each stride.
Hannah checks out the hill that she gets to canter up routinely now as part of our conditioning and extending workouts.
Image: Alexandra Beckstett.
I called on Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, MRCVS, McPhail Dressage Chair Emerita at Michigan State University and president of Sport Steed Science, in Mason, Michigan, who has studied the biomechanics of equine gaits thoroughly, to offer me with some sensible workouts and expectations.
First things first: Can you truly extend a horse’s natural stride? According to Dr. Clayton, to a level, yes.
She discussed to me that at the trot and canter, the suspension phase of the stride contributes largely to stride length. “As the propulsive muscles get more powerful, the horse has the ability to push off into a greater suspension and will then cover more ground while in the air,” she said. “For that reason, works out to enhance propulsive strength will help to extend the stride.”.
Such exercises include:.
Cantering up hillsides;.
Working in medium and extended gaits;.
Education regular shifts between and within the gaits;.
Trotting over raised rails; and.
Gymnastic jumping. [youtube url=””] Trotting over poles can help build your equine’s propulsive strength.
I have actually currently begun integrating more rails and gymnastics into my training, however I can easily add the other workouts to my to-do list. My trainer and I likewise position landing poles on the backside of jumps to motivate Hannah to take a good forward stride upon landing, and for exactly what it’s worth I do carrot stretches with her in the past and after riding.
As a last note, Dr. Clayton stated: “A crucial point is that enhancing the suspension requires more upward propulsion; just driving the equine forward is ineffective. So ride the equine round and with an upward feel– not long and flat– to enhance stride length.”.
How have you managed a steed with a brief stride?

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