I like the videos which I have posted below, because you can see Harley and I working toward the objective. This is a snapshot of our training. You will not see perfection in either of us. This is about the third time that I have asked Harley to produce his big trot down the long side after a bit of canter to put his weight over his hind end, so the process of getting there is quite rusty. When everything falls into place, Harley powers forward with longer strides and I just try to stay in the middle of our balance. I am happy to report that the photo below reveals that what I thought I was feeling is exactly what Mr. Harley was doing. Check out the elevation of the diagonal pair. Please also notice that there is a slight loop in the rein. Although I had to increase the rein pressure to show him that I wanted him to keep his weight off his shoulders before the big trot, once he finds his balance he pretty much does it himself. The feeling is exhilarating! This is one of those things that I was not sure that I would ever get to experience. I am thankful for my generous horse.
In the videos you will see that my priority at the beginning of each long side is to remind Harley to keep his weight back. His head will be up, but this does not bother me. When he finds his balance with the power to open up his stride, his frame "snaps into place" all on its own. No fiddling, flexing, or driving necessary. In fact, my legs are passive at this point. He is supplying the power and I am just directing it and suggesting where it should go. His personality is such that he loves anything where he really gets to push off with his hind end so he accepts the invitation. You will also see this as he displays some bouncy shenanigans and a flying change or two. You may also be able to see that we do not have great control of the power of the big trot at this point. We have improved since the time of this video (early June), but the corners here are a bit precarious. I especially dislike a couple strong inside hand pulls that I commit in the far corner of the ring, but if my memory serves me, it felt like we were about to careen into the fence! You will also see a mega-half-halt before that same corner. I needed Harley to curb his enthusiasm enough to acknowledge the turn ahead. Harley's best efforts are the ones when he approaches the camera. The last effort is conservative, but I wanted to end with a controlled corner. In later rides, we got much better at maintaining balance and control after the big trot and practiced it across the short diagonal as well as the long side.
So for your viewing pleasure:
My 15.1 hand quarter horse big-trotting his little...scratch that...
...BIG heart out. Enjoy!
Here we are going to the right. Harley had lost most of his steam at this point, but he still offered a nice effort the second time around, so we ended with that. His elevation in front was not as impressive, but his balance in the loading diagonal pair was very good to my eye and something to strive for in all his big gait efforts.
|Loading phase even across the diagonal pair.|
|All four off the floor in trot!|