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Straightness….it’s misunderstood and under used.


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We are overbending our horses too much.


I used to think being bent meant being soft, and you need to bend in certain things but being straight brings softness.


Once the horse is straight, they can carry themselves with equal weight distribution on each foot and when they are square, then they can move with relaxation and balance.


I tell my students to ride straight on a circle. When we do this, we allow for abduction to take place and the horse can not collapse their shoulder to the inside.


Overbending on a circle causes the horse to fall on that inside shoulder which causes the hip to go to the outside. Now our horse is out of balance and is now on their front end.


People say to then lift with the inside rein and push with the inside leg and open the outside rein to help the shoulder come over to help stand the horse up (trust me I know. I’ve been there and am still working on it) but what they don’t do, is get the horse straight. Without getting the horse’s spine straight, the horse just continually falls to the inside and no amount of lift from the rider will help. The rider can hold said horse “up” but the reason they have issues once they release is because when you lift with the inside rein, you can adduction to happen rather than abducting and in this case, the adduction just causes the horse to drop the shoulder even more.


Instead, we want to ask for our horses to stay straight.


When I enter a corner or circle, I open my outside rein to ask for the outside shoulder/leg to abduct and just close my inside rein but I do not bend my horse. I will use my inside leg and close my inside hip to show the horse I do want them to take that outside step but a lot the time, I just need to open the outside rein, close the inside one and think in that direction and the horse will take that abducting step as they enter the corner. Now the horse’s shoulder is straight as well as the hip. The spine is in line and our horse can now balance themselves.

It’s a super cool feeling and I now find myself not doing near as much fixing the horse as I just put the horse in the position I desire and the horse seeks to put themselves into proper balance. The horse is happier and more relaxed in our rides.


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