Every horse is naturally slightly crooked. Horses innately bend slightly to the left or the right. Just like people are either right- or left-handed. A rider can hamper a horse’s symmetry, but fortunately can also improve it. In this blog post, we’ll tell you all about what straightness is, why it is so important and how you can analyse (and thus improve) your horse’s symmetry.
What is a straight horse?
A straight horse can bend equally to the left or the right. He does this with a good contact and balanced self-carriage. With a straight horse, you can see that the footprints of the front and hind hooves are in a straight line, one behind the other. A crooked horse has a strong, short side and a weaker, long side. You can clearly see this in the image below.
Then you also have the horizontal and vertical balance of your horse. Vertical balance is the balance between left and right. Horizontal balance is the balance between front and back. Every horse naturally has more weight on the forehand as they have to carry their neck and head on the forehand. Added to that is the weight of the rider which can bring the horizontal balance further out of equilibrium. We call the creation of this horizontal balance “collection”. More about that later.
What is the straightness of your horse?
Straightness is the alignment from the forequarters to the hindquarters as your horse is ridden forwards. You as the rider should ensure that you work both sides of the horse evenly, with correct posture, leg and rein aids.
When it comes to improving your horse’s straightness, it comes down to developing two important points:
- the symmetry of his muscles
- equal strength and coordination in the hind legs (impulsion)
Why is it so important?
A straight horse is a balanced horse that can relax and carry the rider well. That’s the ultimate goal for every rider! Working on muscle symmetry will improve your horse’s vertical balance and make him more and more supple. A straight horse has a lower chance of injury and you will also notice that he rides more nicely.
Making the hind legs stronger, training for an even push off, ensures horizontal balance. Your horse learns to convert forward movement into upward energy. Your horse is now able to carry equal weight on both hind legs at the same time. Or in other words: he has the same strength and coordination in his hind legs.
Symmetry affects the quality of the ride
When the symmetry of your horse is right, you will notice that it has a great influence on the quality of his gaits and the exercises you do. You can find more about symmetry in:
- A better tempo (rhythm and regularity)
- You can ride all your exercises more easily
- More impulsion and therefore a longer moment of suspension
- Your horse is better able to carry you, the rider; and as a rider, you can sit more easily and elegantly
- Less chance of injuries to your horse
Analyse the straightness of your horse with an app
Would you like more insight into your horse’s balance? A mirror in the arena is great, but it can’t give you a full picture of symmetry, impulsion and differences in rhythm. Riding with the SaddleClip and its app gives you an insight into your horse’s symmetry in terms of rhythm, take-off and landing. It will warn you if one diagonal is weaker or if your horse carries his weight to one side. You can also see how the symmetry develops over a longer period.
The SaddleClip enables you to train your horse consciously and effectively. You can now literally measure your horse’s crookedness! Would you like to find out more about training with the SaddleClip?