Ask an Expert

Lengthening Your Horse's Stride

AQHA Professional Horseman Michael Colvin shares his advice for teaching a horse to lengthen his strides.

Question:

I’ve worked a lot on collection with my Quarter Horse gelding. In fact, I worked on it so much that we now have trouble achieving a lengthened stride. I’ve been trying to fix it at the lope, but it doesn’t seem to be working. What should I do?

For the answer, we consulted AQHA Professional Horseman Michael Colvin, of Snellville, Georgia. For more detailed advice, check out the April 2013 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal. Journal subscribers can read it now online or via our app. (www.aqha.com/journal)

Answer:

When working on your horse’s elasticity, the gait where you can get the most accomplished is a medium trot or jog. At that gait, you can really work on getting a horse to respect the boundary you set with your hand and the bridle, and yet not be intimidated by it. I think it’s because the legs move in even, diagonal pairs at the jog – the body mechanics are more simple and bilateral. It’s not so fast or forward a gait that a horse or rider tend to get worried or rushed. It’s a good place for both horse and rider: more forward than the walk, but not so forward as the lope. What a horse learns at the jog carries over to the other gaits.

For a horse to lengthen, you have to have a little feel with his mouth as a starting point. That doesn’t mean a tight contact, but a connection with your hand. You can be on a longer rein and have your horse connected to your hand.

With your hand, activate a boundary with the bit and bridle, just by holding steady in your feel with his mouth. Then, ask the horse to move up with your leg, voice, an active seat, whatever is the way you’ve trained your horse. I use my leg and voice. You are asking him to add energy to the situation.

- Michael Colvin, AQHA Professional Horseman

Learn more in the Journal’s April 2013 “Borrow a Trainer” installment about how to reinforce and practice lengthening your horse’s strides. Read the digital edition of The American Quarter Horse Journal instantly for the rest of this horse-training tip.