Western Pleasure Calisthenics: Part II

Learn how to use the long trot and shoulder and hip exercises in your horse’s calisthenics routine.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

This is the second in a four-part series. Need to review Part 1?

Long Trotting

This exercise is a medium working trot with the horse using a full stride. It is more than a jog but isn’t fast.

The purpose of this exercise is to emphasize balance, strength, complete extension of the legs and use of the back while keeping it rounded. Although the horse is in a working trot, he is still expected to maintain a

proper frame, which is a show-ring frame with the horse’s head and neck as level as possible.

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One of the most important things when long trotting is that the horse is responsive to my spur, leg and seat cues. So when long trotting, I will check with the horse to see if he is listening to my cues. For example, I might vary by asking him to ease his rhythm down a bit and do a slower extension, and then ask him to speed up to a faster extension.

This exercise is a real attention-getter and helps to harness the body and the mind as one. It really emphasizes obedience in a greener horse who is not accustomed to going into a working trot without breaking into a lope or slowing down. This exercise is a way to tell him, “You go the pace I ask you to go. No more. No less.”

Shoulder and Hip

In this exercise, I focus on a shoulder or hip. I will have him either pivot around or move in any direction I ask.

For the shoulder, I will place my outside leg a little forward and ask him to move his shoulder. For the hip, my leg is behind the relaxed leg position. I usually do this exercise with two hands on the reins, and I am typically in the middle of the arena or riding across it diagonally.

The purpose of this exercise is making sure the horse is obedient to my legs and my requests. If I find an area of resistance, then I know I need to focus longer on that.

Stay tuned next week for Part 3 of the series.

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