Rhythm and balance

They are two of the main objectives to attain when training a horse

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When a horse is able to walk, trot and canter and move clamly forward under the control of his rider and has had regular ridden exercise for two or three months, he should be sufficiently confident and phisically fit to undertake the next steps of training. As each horse has different strenghts and weaknesses the importance of work on a particular objective will vary. There are some very important objectives to attain when training a horse. Among these objectives there are rhythm and balance.

Rhythm is the regular recurrence of a given time interval between one footfall and the next in any of the paces. Each pace has is own rhythm. The walk is four-time (1-2-3-4), the trot is two-time (1-2, 1-2) and the canter three-time (1-2-3). As in so many other spheres of activity (athletics, ballet, etc.), rhythm is vital to make best use of ability. When a horse has rhythm he will also be balanced and will find it easier to remain calm and relaxed. Many trainers believe that rhythm is the clearest and easiest primary objective. When it is achieved the horse should be balanced, calm and relaxed.
The aim is to get a horse to mantain the rhythm of a particolare pace on circle, straight line and through corners. To do this he must be balanced.
​When a horse is moving freely in his paddock he has natural balance, but when he starts to be ridden the weight of the rider puts him on his forehand. If he mantains his natural balance this will make it difficult to keep a rhythm. The hinds leg will tend to push the weight rather than lift it, which will usually make the gaits flat, heavy and irregular. To be balanced, in a rhythm when carrying a rider, the horse has to engage his hind legs, bringing them further underneath his and the rider’s body. To achieve this, the rider applies short but repeated aids with legs, and latter with the seat, asking the horse to go forward to a restraining but allowing hand (half-halts). At the same time the rider must think of the rhythm of the gait.