Exercises to improve your horse's trot (and safety stirrups to help you)

Especially dressage riders appreciate a horse with a big trot and good suspension. Not all horses are born with a big, beautiful, natural trot but the good news is that trot is a gait that's easy to improve. In this article, we will look at some useful tips for how you can improve your horse's trot and how choosing the right safety stirrups can help you to find a good leg position to support your horse.

Familiarize yourself with some useful exercises below and try them out next time you hop on the saddle.

Improving your horse's trot is a long process

Improving your horse's trot can have many benefits not only for the rider, but for the horse, too. When your horse takes bigger strides that move more up than forward, your horse is using his full range of motion and moving the whole body.

When the trot has a lot of suspension, balance, and power, the horse uses his whole back. This can help the horse to use the whole body correctly, build muscles evenly, and stay more supple and flexible.

From the rider's standpoint, the trot will become easier to sit and they might be able to score more points in the dressage arena. A big and upward moving trot is also a good basis for learning passage, is that's the level you and your horse are on.

However, it's essential to remember that improving trot and increasing the range of motion is a long process and it will not happen overnight.

Best exercises to improve your horse's trot

Trot is the easiest gait to improve and there are many exercises you can do to improve it. Below, we have looked at some of the easiest ones to start with.

Collected and extended trot

An excellent way to get your horse to sit underneath himself and to activate the hind legs for better power and push is to make transitions from collected trot to extended trot.

If you are only starting out, there is no need to worry about the perfect colletion or perfect extension. Instead, slow the trot down for about 10-15 meters and ask the horse to extend the stride for the next 10-15 meters. Make sure that the horse won't fall onto your hand as you slow back down, but steps underneath himself and carries the neck.

Halt to trot, reverse to trot

Another excellent way to improve the power in the hind end and to get the horse to move through the whole back is to start by doing transitions between halt and trot. Make sure that the horse doesn't take any walk steps in between.

The progression to this exercise would be trot transitions from reverse to trot. From trot, slow down to walk, halt, and reverse again. 

Note: don't overdo the reverse as it's quite tough on the horse's hocks and back knees. Simply a few times both ways is sufficient per ride.

Cavaletti's and ground poles

Using cavaletti's and ground poles are a good way to help your horse to extend the stride as well as step higher. Place the cavaletti's about 1 meter from each other and trot calmly over them. You can also alternate between ground poles and cavaletti's.

Remember correct leg placement

When it comes to improving trot and increasing suspension, it is essential to get the horse's hind legs to activate. 

When you want the horse's hind legs to get more zap, you should move your lower leg back a little bit, about a palm's width behind the girth. When you have given the horse the desired signal, relax your leg and move it back to your neutral position.

It should also be noted that when you want to activate the front legs or even do a pirouette (walking or cantering), you should move your leg forward just a tad.

Ophena's magnetic safety stirrups can help with correct leg placement

Ophena has designed two magnetic safety stirrup models: Ophena S and Ophena S Pro. 

They both feature a magnetic connection, open design, excellent grip, and a Smart Attach™ -system for easier attachment and detachment of stirrups.

Our customers have reported that they have noticed, for instance, the following benefits:

  • Improved leg position
  • Improved foot position
  • Improved balance
  • Increased confidence
  • Better focus
  • Decreased ankle and knee pain

Also, our magnetic safety stirrups decrease the risk of getting caught in the stirrups, making your riding experience safer. Don't believe us? Read stirrup reviews from our customers.

Below, you will see how our magnetic safety stirrups work in action.

Questions? Contact us!