Developing your horse training system should include exercises to help straighten your horse. A straight horse is a function of how lateral supple it is. You can tell if your horse is straight by:
Watching from the front, in a mirror or have a friend watch. Can you see only it’s front legs? The horse’s near hind (left hind) should follow its near fore (left front) and likewise for the off (or right hand) side.
If your horse is more balanced, more comfortable or easier to ride on one side, then it is more than likely not straight.
If you are riding on your own, look at the marks that are left in the arena dirt. You should be able to tell if your horse is tracking straight.
Reasons Your Horse Is Not Straight
Before your horse can be straight you must be a straight rider. When riding develop a positional correction check list. It could include:
- Equal weight in each heel
- Equal weight in each seat bone
- Equal distance from the top of your seat bone to the bottom of your ribcage on the left hand side as on the right hand side.
Leaning, collapsing or slouching to one side will make straightening your horse more difficult. Leaning will through off your horse’s balance and it will compensate by going crocked as well.
Imagine there is a box from the top of your left hip to the bottom of your left ribcage – bottom of your right ribcage to the top of your right hip. Keep this ‘box’ as square as possible. Do not let the sides of the box collapse.
Two Exercises to Help Straighten Yourself and Your Horse
This very simple exercise to help straighten your horse will require 2 ground rails. Place the two ground rails on the centre line or quarter line, 8 feet apart, parallel to each other. Every third or fourth time you ride through them, have someone roll the rails closer together until they are approximately 3 feet apart. You will find that your will ride more accurately and your horse will become straighter.
This exercise can also be used on the diagonal line.
If your horse is not straight, check your stirrups. If your stirrups are uneven it will put uneven distribution of weight on your horse. This will contribute to the horse being uneven.
Another exercise is to lay out two rows of 5 or 6 rails parallel to each other. After riding in between the rails have an assistant move them closer together until they are approximately 3 feet apart.
Then once this is mastered, remove every other rail and maintain the horse’s straightness. Keep removing rails until there are no rails left. When this is complete your horse should be straighter and you will have a feeling of how to make the horse straight.