THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH IS  BACK! (Send yours to us for an answer) The Newest:

In the trot what is the difference between a lengthening, a medium, and an extended trot?

BILL— I remember riding in a clinic in 1973 on a little OTTB mare whom I was eventing Training Level. These days it would be a First Level test, but back then we did Training 3. Looking to the future I asked the clinician if we could work on lengthenings in the trot. She made a non-committal, disheartened response. And now I know why. The horse  was simply not enough on the aids—not enough between leg and hand—not through. Real lengthenings were implausible if not impossible. Without those qualities if you got anything at all, it was likely just to be hurrying. That was also a time when meaningful warmbloods were almost nonexistent in the US, so your horse’s natural movement and cadence were not going to help you very much.

All three of the enlarged trots have several things in common. The strides must get bigger, that is, the horse must overtrack. The tempo should remain unchanged—no quickening. And the hard one for most inexperienced riders—the horse must stay on the bit: round, balanced, carrying himself, and through.

A trot lengthening is a developmental exercise which grows out of the working trot. In order to express a bigger trot, it must be preceded by a spring-coiling, energy-gathering compression. Only so much of this is possible in a working trot, especially one of a lower level horse. The “lengthening” designation recognizes this inherent limitation.

A Medium trot is done from a Collected trot where some of this compressibility and more uphill balance has been created. Because of this it will be more likely to have more lift and cadence than a simple lengthening. They are birds of a feather, however, so that if you make a good medium when a lengthening is called for, you will be rewarded, not punished.

Technically a medium trot and an extended trot are two different things, a concept which remains illusory until a horse has reached the FEI levels. If you construct a vector diagram (and for the heck of it let’s throw in passage as well) the extended trot will have maximum length and overstep with not quite as much height or suspension. The poll will not be quite as high as in a medium, and the horse’s frame will be slightly more open. A medium trot will have a bit more elevation to the steps, a higher carriage, and steps which are longer than the working gait but not as long as an extension. Just for comparison‘s sake, in a passage, the steps will be quite a bit shorter than a working or collected trot but the upward vector will be greater with the emphasis more on lift than on thrust.

Third Level is the first place that collected, medium, and extended trot are all required. With horses in the learning stage or riders who have not quite figured out how to present both bigger trots, the tactical question arises “What’s the best way to present what you’ve got to the judge?” Some riders figure that a medium is “the same as an extension but less,” so for the medium, they just don’t ask as much. This is flawed logic because if your extension isn’t all that good in the first place and you make the medium even less, you end up with two mediocre scores. Until you really know how to present them as conceptually different movements, I think it’s better to make the maximum for both, even if they end up looking exactly the same. That way you will at least get rewarded for the Medium, and the judge can figure out what to do with the score for the extension. Usually they’ll go just one mark lower.


BILL’s On-Line Store — STORECRAZY — is here to provide you with items that Dover and John Nunn can’t offer. Here’s a quick sample.


CLICK HERE to find many more items you won’t want to live without!


If you want the US Eventing Tests which go into effect December 1, 2017, they are here: . If you want the US Dressage tests which go into effect December 1, 2018. You are going to have to wait until they are finalized … in 2018.

[A Note from Bill]

Let me introduce our Associate Editor, Hayden Finch. “Sidd” worked with us back in the ’80s when Susan and I edited A Tip of the Hat, the New England Dressage Association’s newsletter. Prior to beginning his career in journalism, Sidd scratched his competitive itch with a brief foray into professional baseball. In his first stint with us, Sidd penned this alternative biographical sketch of me for the Dallas Dressage Club newsletter publicizing a clinic I did for that group:

Bill’s bio courtesy of Sidd Finch

            Bill Woods (not his real name) comes to the Dallas area several times a year. He and his wife, Onyx, are members of the Federal Dressage Witness Protection Program; thus, their true place of residence is unknown. Both train and compete most of the year in central Florida, often in disguise.

            Bill has been teaching in Texas since the mid ‘80s, having been brought here by Lisa Brown.They had met in New Hampshire some years before, drawn together by a mutual love of hybrid roses which they tended on summer afternoons at the institution.    



If any of the following snippets pique your curiosity, you can find the story archived on this site. It’s DRESSAGE Unscrambled, with a twist—it’s free! More than two dozen dozen (more than 330) posts accessed by this click.

Remember Reiner Klimke and Ahlerich in the victory lap after their gold medal win at the ’84 LA Olympics? All those 76 one tempis in a row?  Well, for old time’s sake, click here for the instant replay!

The Horse Protection Association of Florida needs your help!

HPAF receives no state or federal funding and exists only through donations. The amount of neglected horses and horses whose owners can no longer afford to feed them has exploded recently and your donations make it possible for HPAF to continue the work of protecting and saving horses.


Quote of the Month

“We are all time travelers — just the really dull kind — ones plodding through the 4th dimension one pathetic second at a time.”
(Robert Smith on NPR’s Talk of the Nation)

Quote of All Time

“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang onto, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.”
Chögyam Trungpa

Click to view an important cultural icon: “Bambi Meets Godzilla”


An audio treat for your dining and dancing pleasure? CLICK HERE


FEAST YOUR EYES ON THIS — A FANCIFUL VIDEO MONTAGE TO LEONARD COHEN’S “DANCE ME TO THE END OF LOVE.” The tango sequence is from the 1992 film Scent  of a Woman.

For the One Minute Version
of everything you need to know about – CLICK HERE



Our 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer’s is history. It was a beautiful day with thousands of people on hand. We shared our grief for those afflicted and our hope for the future. Thanks to your help our team, the Meadow Wood Memory Walkers, raised over $13,400 towards finding a cure. That made us one of the two top non-corporate teams at the Ocala walk. Again thanks to your generosity, I was personally able to raise almost $8,000 of that, tops on the individual list. The Ocala Walk has raised more than $100,000. There are Walks in 600 communities around the country so you can see how our combined efforts will boost the research that will make Alzheimer’s survivable.

Chris Hadfield performs Space Oddity from the ISS 

CLICK HERE for a selection from Bill’s Photoshop endeavors
Below: To imprint in your mind. Harmony in the person of Col.  Kurt Albrecht von Ziegner. His mount unknown.


Carl Sagan speaks of The Pale Blue Dot. Please click below and watch this!

It’s another Monday!

If this August’s total eclipse of the sun worked for you (or if you were indoors at the movies), there’s a second showing. The date will be April 8, 2024. Visible in the US on a swath from Texas through parts of the Midwest to Buffalo. I am not going to miss it!



TUNY, the French Bulldog, has agreed to assume BRUCE’S role as the official Safety Coordinator of this website. If, as you’re reading, she issues the “Duck and Cover” instruction, please climb under your desk and assume the position until she issues her All Clear announcement.