Here’s what you should feel in a medium trot and canter:
- The SAME tempo as collection (although it might “feel” slower than the collected gaits because the strides are longer). Try counting it out loud.
- An uphill balance like an airplane taking off.
The success of your medium gait totally depends on how much you collect and engage the hind legs on the short side.
So give connecting aids and keep them on for most of the short side. Then just soften your hands a bit forward when you start the medium.
During the connecting aids, you’re coiling the spring of the hind legs and getting your horse “bubbling over” with compressed energy so he can express that power over the ground in the medium.
To apply connecting aids, close both calves as if asking for a lengthening. Close your outside hand to recycle that power. Vibrate the inside rein to keep the neck straight. The connecting aids can last for a couple of seconds or even for the entire short side.
If your horse goes wide behind in the trot, it shows a lack of engagement. Use a long set of connecting aids and also as an exercise, do the following:
Ride a few steps of shoulder-in. Then do a few strides of medium. Then collect the trot after the medium by stepping back into shoulder-in.
The shoulder-in engages the hind legs. Stepping into shoulder-in BEFORE he gets wide behind teaches him to keep the hind legs stepping under and not start pushing backwards.
Stepping into shoulder-in to collect AFTER the medium insures that you don’t rely too much on your hands, which would stop the hind legs.