There are several factors that will contribute to a horse being unbalanced, and it is important for the rider to recognise the reasons behind the balance problems so they can choose the most appropriate exercise to correct the difference and develop the horse’s straightness.
Most riders are familiar with horses being naturally one side and will turn more easily one way than the other, but there are other factors that influence a horse’s balance and what that horse will ultimately be able to achieve. Conformation contributes greatly to this. A horse who has a large shoulder and thick set neck with quarters and hind legs that are a relatively small in comparison will have a different frame to a horse with a thin neck and shoulder and a more powerful hind end. Horses who are short coupled will generally find the collected movements easier than a horse with a long back, but the extensions may not be as expressive.
However, conformation is not the whole story; the way a horse moves is equally important. I have seen horses with less than ideal conformation transform when they move just because the use themselves well.
Another equally important consideration is the work they have been doing. A horse just off the race track will have very different schooling needs to a horse that has been used for light hacking.
So how does this translate to you and your horse? Take some time out to look at how your horse is made, how he moves and what his life story is; it may provide you with the training direction you are looking for.
I’ve blogged previously about what you can do to improve your horse’s balance and straightness, so do read through those posts if you’re looking for tips and exercises to incorporate into your training.
Diane Followell - Training Riders, Transforming Horses
Diane Followell Classical Dressage Trainer
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