My horse has a choppy trot and fast feet, but she can have a nice floating lengthy trot, but it takes weeks of training to get it.
What sorts of exercises can I do to lengthen, and slow down her feet?
Also my horse has a very tense canter that isn't fun to sit, what sorts of things can I do to get her to relax? 

Thanks. 

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Hi Nat, Do lots of lateral work, this will improve the trot and give the horse the strength to lengthen without rushing. Improving the trot will improve the canter.
Cheers Geoffrey
Nat, how old is the horse and what is her lbreed and level of training? Also, what is your level of training?
She is a 14 yr old WB/TB, and is trained to 4th level. I do training level, and we are fine. She is hot though. Really she just needs consistency, and even if I go camping for a week during the summer, she loses everything and we have to start over.
im interested in this too! i have a 4 1/2 yr old han/tb mare. she is lovely and responsive, obedient, brave. but she struggles to lengthen. i get a couple of strides if im lucky. my instructor says the warmbloods eventually get it and give the most wonderful lengthens/ extensions. i also think she needs to be strong enough which takes time. i'd be interested in your ideas also.
How do you decide how far apart to place the poles? Is there a standard? or just a little farther than the horse's normal (too short) stride?
i use either 1 meter- 1 long stride of mine. or 3 m 3 long strides of mine between them. 1 m apart they are stepping over every step. the idea is to get them to lift and use their shoulders and bend their hocks to push themselves. it also loosens up their back nicely.
Thanks. I tried 3 feet, which would be slightly less than the meter, and 4 feet. The 4 seemed to work better. I wasn't riding, we just tried it at liberty today. Would that make a difference? Also, how many times should I go over them per session. He's a moderately fit Arab, but he doesn't round his back well.
Most likely, she will learn to trot over the poles just fine, no matter how spaced or regular they are. All it takes a healthy, moderately concentrated horse and some persistence. This knowledge is very useful, it brings their attention to their feet, they learn how to co-ordinate their body under the restriction of space/roundpen/lines/commands. However, the poles are a weak replacement for "I want to stride", which is the basic, on which we build the training, should we call it easy. Without that, you will find constantly looking for some mechanical mean to push the horse, until it finds itself to resist you in many different ways.
Nat, it's a common problem. I often find horses run instead of lengthen because they aren't sufficiently warmed up to accept the driving aids (symptoms of this include the horse raising his neck when the leg or seat aids are applied, and/or dashing forward. Some horses will actually stop!). You can help work through this by having a regular warm up routine that includes leg yields, turns on the forehand, easy turns & changes of direction and transitions. With hot horses, I like to do a lot of walk. Be careful you don't push for a big walk, ride your line and above all don't withdraw the hand (yes, you may use your rein aids, but don't sustain anything but a light contact). When your horse relaxes at the walk, go to the trot and do the same exercises (okay, except for turn on the forehand, but you knew that!). Again, don't push. Riding your line is essential. Only if your horse is straight will you be able to get a proper lengthening. Transitions within the trot really help, too. Tense canters are generally due to lack of straightness, also. Ride your line and be careful not to lean forward past her center of gravity. Since she's part TB (right?) she may very well need some time to loosen up her back before you can expect a more relaxed canter. Be patient, stay relaxed and balanced yourself, and don't compromise correct position. Working with a trainer you trust is probably your best bet!
Good luck! Try a little and reward often!
Susan
Thank you so much!
Very helpful!
In my riding, I do a lot of reversed psychology. What it basically means, I do the opposite of my instincts. It requires some training, and experience, but it can be taught, if you start applying RP on a small scale. This might be an opportunity to start.

Rather than driving this horse into your aids, try to be passive. Slow down. Make yourself invisible. Forget forward riding for a while. The horse may not get it first, particularly if forward riding is the only thing she has ever known, she may not react. That's fine. Just silence your body and your aids. Just gently show directions, don't demand any format, any particular speed or length. Let her figure it out. Then, when she shows you, that she actually likes it by being less nervous, and her mind is "present", go outside, and let her express herself freely. The long strides may not come right away, the horse must discover them, and it may take a long time depending on her habits and a state of her mind.

This is a an opposite what you may read, but I have discovered, that it is the horse, that produces the stride, not me. And unless I have a horse, that thinks "free" I have nothing at all....
One more reply of mine, that might be helpful. It regards a training of a young horse, let's say during its first year.
The long strides don't come easy for a young horse, because it is a balance and a confidence issue. When they do come, you may say, you completed the first phase of balance training, ready for another one - more restrictive.

The first phase is easy to do if you do a lot of basic trot and canter outside of a riding ring. Regular rhythm is your goal, and you gradually add more difficulties such as uneven terrain, different speeds, large circles etc. At some point you encourage the horse to lengthen and keep it. Those moments will be offered to you, it cannot be forced. It might happen on the way to home, or in the uphill, but when it does happen, you let the horse know, it can, it should, and you are fine with it! Smile along the way! When your young horse starts using itself freely, unafraid, totally into froward thrust, you are ready for refined schooling.

That has been a centerpiece of forward riding from (post) Caprili times in 30-40s. It worked.

PS: Your horse may have also a physical issue. Some horses experiencing pinching from a saddle, or anywhere else for that sake, will become tensed, nervous, and choppy. It is their way of saying "how can I be free moving, if I get stabbed every time I move in a bigger wave?"

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