Forward Across The Diagonal

OK so I’ve been going on and on about the difficulty of getting Valiosa to that nice soft and forward trot. 

On the diagonal she has been even less fluid.  (How is that even possible!?  And I’m the one who created it I’m sure.)   Wriggling all over the place, slowing down.

So we’ve worked on going across at a better tempo.  Getting a bit of action in the hind legs.  Sharing it here today.

Sounds simple enough.  For most.  For us, it’s been really hard.  Still is.

But first, some strides of good canter.

Look, tiny canter improvements!

december canter

Over in the blink of an eye, but it happens.  Not sure why it’s so difficult, but it is, on the lunge line too.  And we don’t visit it often enough to become friends.

Anyways, back to the trot thing on the short side before the diagonal.

Starting well before the corner, I ask for more.

coming in to the corner

This way she’ll come through the corner with some more engagement and the inside hind pushing off good.  Her trot feels really good there.

in the corner

Then as we come out, it’s enough to just open the hand just slightly, lift up through the chest, stare at the horizon and let her go across the diagonal.

Trot onto the diagonal

Well, theoretically.  We still pewter out less than half way.  Isn’t this SO fun!?

With so much for me to try to figure out how to deal with, and with her putting up with it all so well, of course I’ve completely fallen for her.


Happy New Years To All!

26 thoughts on “Forward Across The Diagonal

    1. I keep thinking she’d be so happy, and look very cute, if she could have a little donkey friend to hang out with in her paddock. But it won’t happen – I feel her pen is too small for two of them to live happy 24/7 in there…

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  1. Both the Portuguese and the Spanish clinicians I’ve worked with had me on the large (20 m or slightly larger) circle most of the lesson. As they said, “until the horse is balanced and carrying himself, you can’t go straight.” The circle really helps the horse bring the inside hind leg under and start to carry. We did a lot of shoulder-fore on the circle for maybe 8 strides, then straight for 8 strides, then shoulder-fore for 8 strides…you get the idea. You can post it all or sit the shoulder-fore part depending on your horse’s strength to carry you, but you post the straight part and ask for a bit more. Pretty soon the horse is opening up on the straight part. Of course, you are still on a large circle, so it’s not really straight. But you then take that feeling (once established) to the arena and work the same exercise around the arena walls. Use the walls to help with straightness. Only go for the diagonal later when you have really established the idea of lifting up in front and going from behind. Otherwise you will get running on the forehand, which passes for extension in so many dressage horses, unfortunately. Have fun with it and you WILL get it 🙂

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    1. THIS is a must try! The circle, sheepishly admitting, is STILL an issue for us. Never have I ridden a horse with SUCH fluctuating tempo. Holding back, slight rushing, grinding into the ground, flailing, counterbending, a bit of running through the shoulder – we’ve got it all!
      I’m going to try the bit of shoulder fore on the circle and see what we can make of it after several sessions.
      I often practice counter bending along the long side and for the outside (but now new inside) leg, which really helps her supple on her stiff side without falling onto it.
      The circle shoulder fore/straightening will go into the test bag next week!
      Thank you for helping!!


      1. Yep, use the large circle and pay attention to the quality of your figure (mine tend to get all lopsided if I don’t pay attention). Counter bend her occasionally, too, doing shoulder-fore to the outside of the circle, then straightening, etc. This will really help your tempo issues. I look forward to a report back 🙂

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        1. Lopsided experts over here. Counter bent shoulder fore on the circle is graduate course for us still, as I think she’d just completely fall apart.
          Then again, you say this IS for improving the tempo, so I better just try it and see what happens!

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          1. Baby steps, Elinor, baby steps. Start with the shoulder in on the circle for a quarter of the circle, then straighten (staying on the circle, and keep it round!, keep the tempo!), keep posting, that will help you maintain forward and tempo most likely. If you divide the circle into quarters, that gives you about the right amount of shoulder-in for her level of strength. Be sure to change directions fairly often and give frequent walk/stretch breaks. I think she can do the counter shoulder-in sooner than you think :-), just keep the circle generously sized and relax about it, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Play with the figures and keep it fun for both of you.

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          2. I thank you for this!
            Glad that you have faith in us 🙂
            We’ll try on Monday. So far any spiraling etc on the circle has been quite unsuccessful. Shoulder fore, posting, large circle, with probably a LOT of stretches of straight, coming up on Monday!


    1. Yep, this is going to be a study of “just how slow can you progress with your young horse.” Happily, I feel that all the way up until she’s past 7, it’s only good, as I’m saving her body from intense work at a young age. But after that, oh, we better be doing some fun stuff 😉

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        1. Nailed it!
          Her youth is a major worry area for me. She’s the very first horse I’ve ever worked from scratch, and I know how easy it is to push them too hard. I fret about the risk of monotony, too, and feel very ambivalent about the fact that I no longer have abundant trail riding ability, since August. A major downer for me. Tried the roads, but they are a suicide here.
          Her 1st year with me was varied, now I hope to make sure to keep the workload low enough to where she’s never strained, or killing of the spirits, while also not stalling out at Training Level for 3 years.
          Ideally, we do too little work, as opposed to too much. But I still fret. Can’t know for sure!

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  2. So if Valiosa cannot make it all the way across the diagonal in the forward pace that you have created try going across the short diagonal to E or B until she gains enough strength to maintain the balance she needs to carry all the way across. As she gains strength you can then try a bit longer diagonal and so on until she can make it all the way across.

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    1. Appreciate this! Why haven’t I thought of that?

      We’ll have to make things easier, that’s for sure. I’m not really working on a true extension, just a definite increase on the diagonal. And she’s balking…

      Now, granted, we work in a short court, so the “long” diagonal is really not THAT long. But I think you’re right, she’s simply not ready just yet to go the whole way.


  3. I am having trouble on the diagonals, wiggling everywhere! It is me I know!! My pony Woody is probably the laziest I have ridden, and getting him to work up and lift,expulsion etc is hard, which does not help with straight lines. Still I have started equipilates, having had an assessment on myself it is very interesting, already having improvements in the schooling, and it’s probably the majority of my fault, all the problems we have…here’s to 2016, had a great schooling session this morning, as it’s still raining in the uk, not much option but to go indoors.

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