Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Curse of the Bouncy Trot - Part 1

So... studying's not really working for me. I've ran errands today, went to Starbucks with my roomies, watched the Black Stallion on Netflix and am now perusing the interwebz. But I might as well do something semi-productive today right?

The curse of the bouncy trot. This is something Jetta and I have come up against repeatedly. The bouncy trot is that wonderful cadenced trot that has impulsion and engagement, with a moment of suspension, yet isn't rushy or too slow. It's perfect.

Jetta likes to go fast. She takes pleasure in rushing around on her forehand because it's way easier than actually having to carry yourself. So what is the curse part? Well, whenever I start to achieve that "perfect trot", we tend to take a huge step backwards in our training. This will be the third time that I have reached this perfect, bouncy trot stage and I'm afraid that we will again take that giant step back in our training. The first time was last winter. We reached the bouncy trot and it was like reaching nirvana. Amazing. But, then all of the sudden it was like a switch had been flipped and I had a horse rushing around ignoring my aids and trying to dive through my hands. Like all of our work had never been done.

So I started over. I focused on my hands and switched to the bitless bridle for a while. That was a huge improvement over the bit and I didn't feel like I was ruining her mouth. We (again) finally reached that point in our training where things were going better. Then came summer. I think part of the problem this time was that I didn't have anywhere to ride except my very unlevel pasture and Jetta is still pretty unbalanced and has unfortunately become an "arena horse" - you know the kind that has to be ridden within four walls or else they go a little bonkers? It was alleviated slightly when my neighbor put in an outdoor arena but there were no walls to keep her in and Jetta often decided that she was goining home now.

Again, I regrouped. We practiced a buttload of transitions and half halts became our greatest friend. We have been slowly getting better and better until now when we have once again reached that bouncy trot that is so amazing. But I feel a regression is lurking around the corner... The bouncy trot is just so amazing and I've been really working on developing it by doing lots of transitions within the trot to help get her off the forehand. But, am I doing too much? I think that maybe part of the reason that we've always had a big step back is because Jetta gets bored with it. I get too focused on that amazing gait and Jetta needs to keep her brain engaged in other things. So, here's my plan. Mix it up a lot. Do more work in the canter so we can make that gait just as good as the trot. Work on straight lines, square halts, shoulder-in and haunches-in not just as a warm-up, but throw it into the mix farther into our ride. Do serpentines, transitions within the walk, etc.

So hopefully, this third time will be the charm and while we'll focus on other things, we will. not. lose. that bouncy trot!

This is what I'm talking about!


  1. Maybe she is getting sore from it? That bouncy trot takes a lot out of the horse. I know once I achieved it on Ed, I was told to use it sparingly and never "lost it" except when he simply wasn't fit enough (ala after breaks or lay-ups). To build the muscles for that bouncy trot, focus a lot more on stretching and suppleness through deeper work. Only break out the bouncy trot for refreshers, test practices and shows, not all the time.

  2. Yeah, that's definitely one thing I've thought about, her being sore from it or not fit enough to maintain it. Thanks for the input! I have started asking her to work deeper and I really want to focus on getting her more fit overall.

  3. The bouncy trot... That sounds really... bouncy. I have no idea of the delights of the bouncy trot becausre I have gaited horses (Spotted Saddle Horse and Tennessee Walker). They are smooth like peanut butter. No bounce at all! Still, interesting read... Thanks for posting!