Are you ready for the next step in straightening your horse? Then you’ve come to the right place. We give you four challenging exercises to straighten your horse.
Exercise 1: Shoulder-fore and shoulder-in
Shoulder-fore and shoulder-in provide more balance, flexibility and shoulder freedom. A horse naturally places the outside hind leg on the track between the two front legs. When you teach him shoulder-in, you teach him to place his inside hind leg under his center of gravity. These two exercises flow into each other, both have the same function when it comes to straightening. Does shoulder-fore feel good? Build this out into shoulder-in.
We start with shoulder-fore:
- Make sure your horse places his shoulders directly in front of his hindquarters. He walks on two tracks.
- Start walking straight ahead and ask for a bow.
- Now move on to a shoulder in: have him place his shoulder further in. The shoulders are now set further in than the hindquarters.
- You walk on three or four tracks and your horse looks in the opposite direction from where he is walking.
- Is the shoulder-in too easy for you? Try it at a trot and canter.
- Perform the exercise left and right. By training both sides you keep him in balance. If you only train in one direction, it will become unbalanced and injuries can occur.
In addition to balance in the canter, cantering in the shoulder front also provides a more powerful hindquarters.
Not every horse performs this exercise easily. Does he resist? Then he probably still finds this exercise difficult. Reward him when he makes some good moves. Continue the training at a later time and do not dwell on the exercise for too long.
Exercise 2: Travers
Travers, renvers and half-pass are good exercises to straighten your horse and can be found in the higher dressage classes. At travers you ride on two hoof beats and four tracks. It is similar to shoulder in, but requires a different coordination: more longitudinal bending of the body is required.
- Your horse is looking in the same direction he is moving.
- He has his shoulders against the wall, and the hindquarters are turned inward.
- You take the hindquarters up the long side from the corner.
- Use your inner leg as an axis for your horse to turn around.
Have you mastered travers and dare to add some variation? Walk the travers, then try at a trot or canter, alternating with shoulder-in. Also ride travers on a circle for an extra challenge.
Exercise 3: Renvers
When travers go well, a nice succession is walking in renvers. Renvers is the opposite of travers.
- Your horse has proper bend in the direction of travel.
- He’s looking in the same direction he’s moving.
- He has his hindquarters near the wall, and the forequarters are turned inward.
Exercise 4: Half-pass
Another good exercise from the high classes of dressage is half-pass. When you perform a good travers, you can ride the half-pass. If you ride travers on the diagonal, you now have a half-pass. Half-pass is an excellent exercise for more flexibility. It has the same longitudinal bend as with travers with an extra degree of difficulty. It has no support against the wall. In tests, a zigzag half-pass is often requested, which is extra challenging for balance and longitudinal bending.
- Your horse is looking in the direction he is walking
- He moves forward-sideways and remains almost parallel to the long side
- He crosses his legs, his outer legs go before his inner legs
- It is slightly bent around your inner leg
- Alternate with half-passing to the left and right. This is a good exercise to see if he is straightened equally well on both sides
A zigzag half-pass is extra challenging for balance and longitudinal bending.
Straighten your horse with the Equestic SaddleClip
To gain more insight into straightening your horse, the Equestic SaddleClip is the perfect tool. When you perform the exercises from this blog with the SaddleClip, it gives a lot of insight into the symmetry of your horse. You will soon see points for improvement to correct yourself as a rider and your horse. After each training, you can easily read how you performed with the Equestic app. The app gives a complete picture of the symmetry, push-off and stride differences. Good luck with these exercises to straighten your horse!
Practice these exercises twice a week for a month. When you ride with the SaddleClip you can check in the Equestic App how the symmetry of your horse is developing.