Straightness

Straightness is one of the basic objectives of all training of the horse


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The horse is straight when the hind legs follow the tracks of the forelegs, which means when moving on straight lines he will be straight and on curved lines slightly bent from nose to tail along the line of the curve. There should not be any greater bend in the neck than in the rest of the body.

An example of training to make the horse straight.
The untrained horse is rarely straight and the rider will feel that the horse accepts the rein contact more readily on one side than on the other. The hind leg will bend more on the hollow side and will not truly follow the track of the corresponding foreleg. Therefore, the shorter muscles on the hollow side have to be lengthened gradually, to avoid strain and stress. It’s important to avoid concentrating entirely on the forehand, as the hind leg which is slightly left behind must be encouraged to come forward un under the body.
It’s difficult to make a horse truly straight until he is capable of performing the best of all straightness exercises – the shoulder in. By this stage, too, the hind quarters will be more engaged and the shoulders easier to control: therefore not to much enphasis should be placed on straightening the young horses.
If the horse is stiff to the right and hollow to the left, he will be slightly bent in his whole body around the rider’s left leg and may tend to bend his neck too much to that side. With such a horse, the trainer begins riding on the left rein (which is eaiser for the horse) and concentrates at first in preventing him from bending his neck too much to the left. Contact with the left rein is mantained while using short, gentle taking-and-giving actions with the right rein to reduce the excess bend in the neck. At the same time the rider uses his leg and seat aids to push the horse foward into the hand to obtain an even and momentarily stronger contact. It’s important the use of the seat and the leg aids and the maintenance of the will to go forward. An excess of the rein aids leads to resistance in the horse. After several circuits the rider should change the bend and repeat the same lesson on the more difficult rein for the horse. On this rein the rider asks for more bend by riding from the inside leg into a still, outside rein, using taking-and-giving aids with the inside rein. Equal amounts of work should be done on both reins. The best is to do this work is in a circle.
​The rider should gradually experience a more even feel on the reins and have less difficulty in correcting the bend in the neck, but it is a slow process, as muscles must develop to enable the horse to get straighter.