Are you looking for horse riding exercises to straightening your horse? Then you are in the right place. If you improve the symmetry, in turn you will have a smoother horse that also feels better. A straight horse has less chance of injuries and goes smoothly because he can relax more. We give you four basic exercises for your training here…
Straightening your horse and balanced riding
A horse is naturally bent to the left or right. You can compare this with yourself, you also have a right and left dominant side. As a rider you play an important role in straightening your horse. The symmetry can be improved, but you can also get in the way of your horse doing this. If you want more information about riding straightness and why this is important, read our blog about straightening your horse.
Exercise 1: While standing bend left and right
A good exercise to start with is bending while standing – a stretching exercise that you can do from the ground. You do the stretch left and right so that your horse stretches evenly on both sides. Here’s how to perform the stretch:
- Your horse stands still and you let him gradually bend to the left.
- Do not force this and let him find his own limit in this stretch. Is he not able to bend much? Don’t worry – it’s probably a little stiffer to this side.
- Repeat this exercise regularly and on the other side and after a while flexibility of your horse will likely improve.
Want to do more stretches with your best friend? Read our blog with 5 exercises to make your horse more flexible.
Exercise 2: Riding Circles (10m circles)
Riding circles (both to the left and to the right) is a good exercise for improving push-off. With a circle of eight to ten meters you help him to step under himself more and to carry weight on his inside hind. A circle is often more difficult for your horse than you think. This is due to a horse’s natural tendencies. A left-tracking horse falls clockwise in and out left. Stay patient while you train circles and don’t rush!
Tips for riding circles:
- You ride a single stride where the inside front leg and hind leg make a smaller circle than the outside front leg and hind leg.
- With a good circle, the hind legs follow the front legs as much as possible. They walk in the trail of the front legs.
- Your horse’s body bends in the direction of the circle.
- Use the horse’s length of stride as a starting and ending point and try to get around the circle as much as possible.
- For optimal training, ride circles left and right and vary them in size.
For more tips, watch the webinar on how to get your horse symmetrical here. In this webinar, the world-renowned dressage trainer George Williams talks about riding circles for straightness. This is an exercise that he recommends.
Another option is to ride a figure-8. With a figure eight you ride left and right all in one exercise. A serpentine is also an exercise in which you let him bend left and right with one exercise with graduall change of bend.
Exercise 3: Medium trot on alternating diagonals
An exercise to improve symmetry is medium trot on a diagonal. This strengthens the hindquarters and in particular the less strong hind leg.
This is how you perform the exercise:
- Start with a medium trot and start the diagonal.
- Change the diagonal every six to eight strides. With this, you ensure a certain rhythm and you work on an even power development from the hindquarters.
- This exercise is also a good test to see if you push off well with the inside hind.
Any turning exercise such as circles, small circles, or shoulder-in helps tremendously with straightening. Turning exercises such as putting the horse on his hindquarters or turning him half a stride in a simple walk are also very effective.
Exercise 4: Lunging
When lunging, your horse learns to turn on a circle in different gaits. You do this by hand on the lunge line so he finds his balance without rider weight. This exercise requires a lot, so it is important that you do not do this too often or for too long. Lunge up to two or three times a week and no longer than 10 to 20 minutes.
Tips for lunging:
- Attach the lunge line to the halter or bridle.
- You have a leading and a driving hand. Hold the lunge slightly drooping in your leading hand and hold it slightly lower than your other hand.
- In your other hand, the floating hand, you hold the lunge whip or the end of the lunge line. This is directed towards the hindquarters.
- Stand a few meters from your horse (depending on how big you want the circle) and make sure you are in the middle of the circle.
- Turn around your own axis, or at least walk so you are moving. You then make a small circle in the middle.
- Does your horse run away or shoot forward on the lunge? Then he may be out of balance and find the exercise difficult. When this happens, give him some space and don’t hang or pull on the lunge. By giving more of the lunge line, space is created for him.
- Lunge both ways, left and right. That way you train both sides.
When is your horse straight?
Your horse is straight when he balances on both left and right sides in the different gaits. He walks the same on both legs and bends evenly on both sides. A straight horse has the imprint of its front and hind legs in a straight line. You can train your horse’s straightness with different horse riding exercises.
Straightening with the Equestic SaddleClip
With the Equestic SaddleClip and accompanying Equestic App you get more insight into the progress of your training. Perform the horse riding exercises from this blog with the SaddleClip and gain insight into your horse’s rhythm, straightness and symmetry.