Keeping horse straight - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 05-17-2010, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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Keeping horse straight

So.... How? I took a lesson on Kiara yesterday (she's NEVER been in lessons before), and the instructor said she looks/moves very crooked all the time. Which I agree with - no arguing on my side. However when I try to keep her straight (with reins and looking myself straight) she still manages to wonder around. So are there any exercises for "straightness" one can recommend?

My other horse doesn't have such a problem even though I ride them in same way.
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-17-2010, 12:42 PM
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Crookedness usually can't improve from the reins. Looking straight ahead is extremely helpful, but it's got to be through your seat and your legs. Think of moving her forward from behind through a channel (seat, legs, then hands) to keep her straight. My boy has a lot of difficulty staying straight. I focus on getting him forward first, before we have any hope to keeping him straight! Just my two cents...

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post #3 of 12 Old 05-17-2010, 12:47 PM
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Try doing some point to point exercises - rather than concentrating on walking in a straight line try going from one letter in the school to another. Your horse will have to learn to listen to you and not be able to wonder off as she will not know where you are going to point her next.
Another trick is to try and look at a point that is far away ( not in the school ) and head towards it - the short distance in the school becomes part of a much longer line and is easier to keep to ( like when you are driving a car, you don't look at the front of the car but 50 metres down the road ).
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-17-2010, 01:24 PM
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I like to set ground poles down like a "channel" and ride through them. It's very important for you to keep your eyes up and focus on being straight, which will translate through your body. I prefer to do this outside because I find I focus better on things that are far in the distance (closer focal points tend to bring my eyes down and bring my horse off of a straight track).

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post #5 of 12 Old 05-17-2010, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you, folks! Those are all very good suggestions, so I'll try them out.
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-17-2010, 09:36 PM
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It's very difficult (impossible?) to get a horse completely straight by just holding them straight especially if they're used to going crooked. It takes a lot of exercises and proper riding to teach a horse to carry themselves properly. Lateral exercises. Meaning dressage. It is absolutely amazing what a little shoulder-in/haunches in will do for a horse's straightness.

I've started really using a little miracle exercise called the shoulder-fore. I got a horse in that is not only heavy on the forehand and downhill but crooked as can be. Stopped doing his lead changes (really? he could barely canter in the first place). Using leg yields, turn on the forehands, and the shoulder fore: Lead changes lead changes lead changes.

lateral exercises. use 'em. you won't regret it.
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post #7 of 12 Old 05-18-2010, 12:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitten_Val View Post
So.... How? I took a lesson on Kiara yesterday (she's NEVER been in lessons before), and the instructor said she looks/moves very crooked all the time. Which I agree with - no arguing on my side. However when I try to keep her straight (with reins and looking myself straight) she still manages to wonder around. So are there any exercises for "straightness" one can recommend?

My other horse doesn't have such a problem even though I ride them in same way.

Most people don't really know what crookedness truly is so I offer these to read

Take a look at this thread about exactly this topic.

Crookedness

And read this article....

Straightness: A Tale of Two Horses - ArtisticDressage.com Articles
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-19-2010, 07:40 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Spyder View Post
Most people don't really know what crookedness truly is so I offer these to read

Take a look at this thread about exactly this topic.

Crookedness

And read this article....

Straightness: A Tale of Two Horses - ArtisticDressage.com Articles
Thank you, Spyder and upnover!

I read those threads.... Hmmm.... Now I'm not positive "crooked" is the right word. The instructor was talking about her head and eyes not looking in the direction we are going. I also must admit it's the worst at the walk - trot and canter are better. She's more concentrated and focused on high speed (btw, she's light on forehand unlike my other horse) while on walk she tries to keep her eye on EVERYTHING around (she's very spooky and nervous overall).

Actually here is my another stupid question. I'm taking lessons with 2 instructors. One is dressage/jumping and she tells me the horse should have a little bend to the inside even when she goes straight. Other one is jumping (no dressage what so ever) and she said the horse must be absolutely straight if we go straight. So I'm very confused... I don't feel like saying "hey, other instructor said something different..."...
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post #9 of 12 Old 05-19-2010, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by kitten_Val View Post
Actually here is my another stupid question. I'm taking lessons with 2 instructors. One is dressage/jumping and she tells me the horse should have a little bend to the inside even when she goes straight. Other one is jumping (no dressage what so ever) and she said the horse must be absolutely straight if we go straight. So I'm very confused... I don't feel like saying "hey, other instructor said something different..."...
If you read the articles ."straight" does not refer to the body of the horse but in the movement of the horse. A horse can be straight even when it is on a circle and slightly bent.

The problem is that many coaches interchange straight meaning the horse should not be over flexed or wrongly bent with straight meaning traveling straight, and don't explain (some because they can't as they do not fully understand).

Your dressage coach is right and your jumper coach is also right but each is not explaining what they mean so you understand EXACTLY what they are referring to.

Any crookedness in the body of the horse ( in other words what you SEE) is a manifestation of what the legs are doing wrong.
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post #10 of 12 Old 05-19-2010, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Spyder View Post
If you read the articles ."straight" does not refer to the body of the horse but in the movement of the horse. A horse can be straight even when it is on a circle and slightly bent.

The problem is that many coaches interchange straight meaning the horse should not be over flexed or wrongly bent with straight meaning traveling straight, and don't explain (some because they can't as they do not fully understand).

Your dressage coach is right and your jumper coach is also right but each is not explaining what they mean so you understand EXACTLY what they are referring to.

Any crookedness in the body of the horse ( in other words what you SEE) is a manifestation of what the legs are doing wrong.
Thanks, Spyder! Yes, I read the article before asking a question, and I understand what you mean by "traveling straight". My confusion though is that with my other horse she moves straight, but per dressage instructor you still want her to be -slightly- bend to the inside (like someone said - see the corner of eye or something like that). And I actually can bend her slightly still moving straight as well as my dressage instructor when she rode her. But per jumping instructor there should be no bend what so ever, head/neck should be completely straight with the body when going along the long side of the ring. And that's where I get lost... Do you suppose to ride kinda differently for different discipline?
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