What is Straightness? Is My Horse Straight or Crooked?

Welcome to my first blog! I've chosen this subject because it's so important. If you have any questions, please email me. mt_dressage@yahoo.com

Thank you, Susan

When I watch most people ride, I can see if their horse is straight or not. By observing I can tell if the horse is going crooked and in or out of balance. The horse may lean or bear more weight ,on one side of the body than the other.

What happens when a horse is not straight? The horse has poor balance and minimal or poor movement. By riding crooked the rider will stop it's athleticism and the natural ability of the horse. We limit the horse’s true potential! I would say at least 80% of riders are unaware they are riding this way. Most horses have a natural crookedness and it's up to the rider to correct this. This is caused by muscle asymmetry where one side of the horse is shorter than the other and some horses are either right or left dominant and the undominant side is weaker. The most important factor in all of this is the shoulders not the hindquarters. That I will discuss next time.

Straightness is defined by 'traveling in a true track' - the hind leg follows in the track of the front leg on the same side. Each hind leg bears equal weight. When a horse is straight he allows the aids to come through, thus improving movement and strength. When that happens he is equally responsive to the aids on either rein and is able to move freely including having more freedom to move in it's shoulders.

Picture a horse traveling on a straight line. When a horse is crooked he tends to lead with haunches to the inside of the line and the inside shoulder falling to inside. Then usually the outside shoulder pops to the outside of the line. This completely disrupts the symmetry of the horse. The horse is in imbalance while it's traveling, making it even harder with a rider.

There are many things one can do to correct crookedness but first the rider needs to open his or her eyes and see what's wrong. I find many riders bypass this most important element of riding and off they go to a show! How many times have I witnessed this!

Next week I will discuss ways to straighten your horse. Hopefully I can add a video.

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