Do you have any tips or advice on how I can achieve that long and low head and neck while riding??
I've read about "sponging" I don't quite understand how to do that with the reins?
(And if I do the sponging will my horse automatically lower his head - even if he hasnt been trained to do so?)
Any ideas?? I will work on it with my horse this next week.
Okay, let me help you!
When I first learned about ''sponging'' I was told it's as light and simple as a heart beat. Remember to KEEP your equitation (posture) upright. You want to imagine a string attached from your bellybutton all the way to the tip of your head. Keep it straight, shoulders back and straight, rump sound and relaxed so your back is relaxed and able to Allow movement when you achieve the "long and low" frame.
In order to get your horse to properly relax it's body, he's going to have to understand how to s t r e t c h it out first.
When you first get on your horse and warm up, you have to Allow* the horse to stretch it's muscles, extend his back and really move forward. With the horses head low and his body moving forward, you're going to have to push the horse off your leg and get him 'on-the-bit'. This means, without drastically changing pace, allow your horse to move forward in the warm-up. Extend the trot and keep a slighter loose rein. [If you have a horse in which is not supple to the bit that's when sponging comes in (which I'll mention later)]. Essentially allow the horse to keep a forward rhythm, after collecting and extending exercises, your horse should learn the difference in pace/rhythm.
Now, with sponging. If your horse is having an issue with keeping contact on the bit, FIRST make sure your hands are even, thumbs and wrists up.
**"Whatever you can do at the walk- you can do at the trot. Whatever you can do at the trot- you can do in the canter."**
At the walk, (it may be easier to begin on a turn) while you add leg pressure to motivate the horse forward, like a heartbeat squeeze pressure on the rein and when your has a proper bend, you can see their ear listening, and without releasing pressure- wait until the horse has a response. IF the horse does not like the pressure, r e l a x x x x. Baby steps.
Add leg and slight hand squeeze Do it 2x like a pulse and see if your horses muzzle wiggles a bit, or his eye or ear makes a notice. Release your hand pressure ONLY and ride through the trot keeping the forward rhythm (this will keep the low neck). Do alternating one hand, both hands, heartbeat squeezes on the reins.
"Keep your hands off your horses neck, ride with the best balance, and show off your best talents ;]"-me
Hope this helps!!! Message me if you want more advice!