Question # 97: I have an 11yo OTTB who is a roarer and whom I am competing at novice level this year. We are doing great on XC and in SJ, but we are struggling in dressage.

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More specifically, we are struggling with submission at the trot. At the walk, it is possible to get Johnny moving forward into contact, and he will chew the reins out of my hands if allowed. At the canter, he will either have a beautiful, light canter where I feel like I am so connected I could ask for a pirouette, or he panics and thinks he is at the races again (though the latter is becoming more and more rare, so I think it is mostly mental). And, at the walk and canter, I can drop the inside rein for several strides, or even both reins for one or two strides. the trot, I get one of two responses: either a very slow, short-strided trot (almost like a western pleasure jog), or if I ask him to move forward, he flattens out, evades contact, and rushes--my instructor calls it his giraffe trot. It's impossible to sit, much less do anything effective with my seat. I can slow my posting down and get him to slow down, but the connection still isn't there. I've heard two schools of thought for him: slow, slow, slow his trot down, then build him up once the connection improves, or send him forward, forward, forward into spiral-in, circles, etc. The problem is, neither seems to be working for him. Without forwardness, I don't feel like there's any energy to contain, and when I send him forward, he is so evasive of contact that my half-halts are ineffective. Any suggestions? (Courtney)

Hi Courtney!

With the type of horse that gets tight and tense when the rider asks for more forward energy, rushing and becoming erratic and irregular in its rhythm - you definitely want to... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)

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