Riding exercise of the month: collected to extended transitions

This is one of my favorite exercises for developing great collected-extended-collected transitions. It's a very simple exercise that rewards your horse for beginning to explore their abilities that might be outside of their normal range - so that you can teach your horse that they can extend more! In this exercise, you're able to really focus on your position to maintain your softness and flexibility, but it also allows you to focus on those aids that help flow through the horse's back to maintain the looseness that keeps the energy thats needed for those extensions flowing.
Start out in working trot, go down the long side of the arena and at the last letter before the corner of the arena, ride a transition to collected walk and ride a walk half pirouette so that you can then ride back down the same long side. Using the lightest-possible aids, straighten your horse and transition back to the working trot. Before you get to the corner, transition to walk and make half a walk pirouette in the other direction. Once you're back on the long side, promptly back into trot and each time that you repeat the exercise, ask for more each time during the trot on the long side.

It's important to remember that the extended trot is not all that natural to many horses. In nature most horses will run away by galloping and normally we see horses in their fields start to extend their trot, but usually break to canter because it's just easier and more efficient for them. Because of this, it's important that you build your horse's strength slowly, work on excellent surfaces, be wise about the number of repetitions of extensions and always finish the training session the moment you know that your horse has done the best that they can for that day. Also remember that rewarding your horse is critical to their well-being and understanding of your training so during these moments of success, tell your horse that they've done well with a big pat and lots of treats 🍬
This exercise highlights the extremes of collection, which in this case is the collected walk that is required for a walk pirouette. Perfecting this will help you transition to an extended trot because the horse must remain active in the hind legs. The pirouettes give you a moment to gather confidence, establish balance and reward your horse for thinking in the right direction! Positive reinforcement is everything  🙌🏻

Let me know how you get on, leave a comment below once you've tried it out! 

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