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Health benefits for your horse while riding long and low

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

Long and low....yes I know it’s a dressage term, but we need to not think of it only in that context. We need to realize all the other benefits that it brings to our horses.


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You’ll notice in the top photo, Maverick is reaching down and into the bit. He is lengthening his neck, opening his throat latch area and lengthening and stretching over his topline. This will allow him to keep his back loose which will in turn make him feel better and allow him to stay relaxed and loose. It also helps your horse be less bracey in the lower neck and jaw.

We also want our horses to feel safe reaching into our hands. We don’t want to be snatching their mouths, pulling back or having bouncy hands. We want the horse to feel like he can reach into the soft contact and know that his mouth will be safe.


In the bottom photo, you can see that Maverick’s head is pulled higher up and back. You can see his facial expression is much tighter. His muzzle is tighter, his eyes are harder and his ears are farther back. You can also see that his neck is shorter and he muscles are more bunched up. His throat latch area is very thick and bunched and the salivary glands are bulging. Over time, Riding with your horse’s head and neck bunched up can cause health issues to the salivary glands. Also, his back will be tight and tense, which causes back pain and the inability to stretch.


The health benefits for your horse while riding long and low are immense and we all want to help our horses feel better. It also allows a horse to relax more under saddle as a head below the withers means released endorphins for relaxation.


Now I get that a horse’s head that low does mean they are on the forehand but as we are teaching the riding process, the benefits of the long and low far outweigh trying to force and pull a horse into a frame. Also, as the horse advances, we begin to ask for lift from the horse from his withers and back and up through the thoracic sling while the neck stays soft and open.


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