Question about straight & flexion - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 23 Old 08-24-2012, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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Question about straight & flexion

I got into a debate over this one to the point where I started to doubt myself, so I'll ask the experts. When traveling straight, as in a straight line down a long side, do you still keep inside flexion? My understanding is that you should always have enough flexion to see the inside eyelashes whether traveling in a straight line, on a circle or otherwise, but others have said that straight means just that, straight. I don't believe a half halt can go through on a dead straight horse, but now I'm wondering which is right.

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post #2 of 23 Old 08-24-2012, 05:56 PM
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The answer to your question is, it depends. It depends on the horse's age, level of training, stage of training, what you are working on, etc...

Eventually you want the horse to be evenly into both reins, evenly on both hind legs and arrow straight on any straight line, yes. In a correct extended trot where the horse is truly on and in front of the aids, in order to keep a flexion, you would have to pull on one rein, disrupting the connection and thus, the even-ness of the hind legs.
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post #3 of 23 Old 08-25-2012, 12:30 PM
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"When traveling straight, as in a straight line down a long side, do you still keep inside flexion?"

Inside bend, yes, because even though you are on the long side, you are still on a circle. The only way to be straight on a circle is when the back is on the same track as the front in an arc. Is that what you meant?
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post #4 of 23 Old 08-25-2012, 04:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shasta1981 View Post
"When traveling straight, as in a straight line down a long side, do you still keep inside flexion?"

Inside bend, yes, because even though you are on the long side, you are still on a circle. The only way to be straight on a circle is when the back is on the same track as the front in an arc. Is that what you meant?
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Yes, that is what I am asking. In cases where this is a clear inside & outside, whether it be straight or on a circle, my understanding is that bend is always necessary to be "horse" straight.

For example, my test requires coming down the center line and then tracking left down the long side. For center line, I ride dead straight since no inside/outside, but then once we are tracking left, I keep the bend. We're talking mini shoulder-fore. Just enough to see his eye lashes. Is that correct.

BTW, I am talking training, first level horse.

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post #5 of 23 Old 08-25-2012, 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shasta1981 View Post
"When traveling straight, as in a straight line down a long side, do you still keep inside flexion?"

Inside bend, yes, because even though you are on the long side, you are still on a circle. The only way to be straight on a circle is when the back is on the same track as the front in an arc. Is that what you meant?
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?? I don't think "straight down a long side" is on a circle.
Shoulder-fore, or a slight flexion, is a good way to keep--and make sure---your horse doesn't fall out; but I'd think a well-moving, well-balanced horse using his body evenly on the straight line, would be preferred at any level.
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post #6 of 23 Old 08-26-2012, 03:36 AM
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When in an arena and traveling to the left or right, you are in essence, traveling in a large circle are you not? I know I don't ride it as a square (unless perhaps when working on specific exercises involving turn on the haunches).

I see what you are saying Puck, and yes I would argue the same. If I were to change reins on the center line I would have a few moments of straightness with no bend and then change the bend to my new direction of travel. If there is no bend on an arc how can you be straight?
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post #7 of 23 Old 08-26-2012, 08:26 PM
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Shasta, I am not wure where you are getting to notion that a straight line of a 60x20m arena is a circle? A straight line is a straight line. A circle is a circle.

The only time I ride a straight line with flexion or mild bend is in training - constantly adjusting and moving the horse. As Anebel said, you ideally want the horse even on both reins. Bend, however mild, is going to effect how the hind legs track. You will get points docked - if the judge isn't as blind as a bat - if the horse is not straight on the centre line, long side or on a diagonal. Straightness means that the hind legs are tracking in the same line as the front legs, with even contact in both reins. If you ride straight towards a mirror, you should not be able to see th hind legs, and the horse's head will be centred between the line of the front legs.

On a circle, your have bend because to keep straight and turning, the horse must bend through its body and lightly through its neck.


An 'arc' is a curved line. So of course you are going to have bend. A straight line is a straight line. No bend.
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post #8 of 23 Old 08-27-2012, 08:33 AM
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So you contend that a training-level horse should have zero inside flexion unless on the short side?
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post #9 of 23 Old 08-27-2012, 08:48 AM
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as far as I know, and correct me please if im wrong, the horse is always moving straight on the line it is on. So if the line is straight, like a long side, the body is straight. If the line is curved, like on a 20m circle, the body follows the same curve as that circle, ie there is bend. Essentially moving straight on a curved line. Except in training, you don't want the body to have more bend then the line you are riding.

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post #10 of 23 Old 08-27-2012, 09:14 AM
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I've found some light reading from Jane savoie on the subject that might help the discussion, too.

What’s the Difference Between the Dressage Terms Shoulder-in, Shoulder-fore, and First Position | Jane Savoie

I'm trying to suss out why we need the inside flexion or "first position".

Here is what Im thinking:

Inside flexion in an arena on training level horse to teach straightness because A) at least one side is going to be more crooked than the other anyway, B) to teach engagement, and C) as a precursor to a straighter canter.

Thoughts?
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