Strategies for Successful Straightness
As an integral part of your training pyramid, straightness, is near the top of the training pyramid. There are other steps which lead you into the straightness schooling step.
Why is Straightness Important?
Straightness allows the horse to use both sides of his body equally and effectively. If your horse is straight, or developing into straightness, then he will be equally developed on both sides. This gives your horse the opportunity to use his body efficiently and smoothly.
Horses which are one sided, or not straight, are often stronger on one side. This leads to horses who evade more and because they use themselves un-evenly, they are more prone to soreness and unsoundnesses. If a horse propels himself evenly, he will carry himself equally on each leg which will translate to a healthy and productive career.
First Steps to Straightness
Before expecting your horse to be straight, the rider must be straight. I liken it to sitting in a canoe. If you don’t sit up straight in a canoe, and have your spine over the ‘spine’ of the canoe, you will tip over. Same on a horse.
You should be sitting with each seat bone equi-distant from the horse’s spine and your spine over the horse’s spine. You should have equal weight in each seat bone and in line with the horse. Think of a triangle; your left seat bone, your right seat bone and your tail bone should form a triangle.
How to Tell If Your Horse is Straight
The easiest way to determine if your horse is straight is to follow his hoof prints. A horse is said to be straight when the hind hoof follows the track of the front hoof of the same side. So, for a horse to be ‘straight’ on a circle, the horse must ‘bend’. That’s right folks. Horses must bend to be straight.
Hind hoof should follow the track of the front hoof(Photo credit: Calsidyrose)
Don’t be confused. It is quite easy to understand. The horse’s inside hind leg must step into, or follow, the path of the inside forelimb. On the left rein, or example, the horse’s left hind leg must follow the path which the left front leg is following.
If your horse is allowing his quarters to swing out, a common evasion, then his inside hind leg may step in between the prints made by the forelegs or may even follow into the hoof print of his outside shoulder. Correction – close the outside leg.
Sometimes the horse may swing the hindquarters in on the circle. This will result in the hoof prints of the horse’s hindquarters being on the inside of the prints of the front hooves.
Exercises for Getting Straight
Here are a few exercises to help get you straight.
- The Straight Dope on Riding a Circle
- The Classic Training Pyramid
- How to Sit Straight in the Saddle
- More on how to get your horse straight right here! and other posts here.
Thank you for reading this post… If you have comments of questions, please feel free to email me. I invite you to leave a comment as well. I’d love to hear from you.