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Exercises for Straightness?

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  • Exercises for Straightness?

    The Mare that Isn't Appy and I are having some problems with carrying on a straight line. It is pretty obvious at the walk, gets better at the trot, and is very apparent at the canter. She's still very green, and we mostly work at the walk and trot. She's been off the track for a while, but has only been working for a little over 2 months.

    Does anyone have any good (fun?) exercises to help with straightness? I know part of the problem is that I'M not entirely straight, so any additional exercises that could help the rider would be appreciated too.

    Thanks so much!

  • #2
    How is the horse not straight? Are her hind quarters angled in, off the line of travel?

    In dressage, when the hind quarters get angled in, off the track, rather than trying to push the hind quarters back out toward the track, you bring the shoulders in, in front of the haunches. It's shoulder in like aids that bring the shoulders into line with the hind quarters, and shoulder in aids are very much like your circle aids. But it's best if an instructor can show you how to do this, if you haven't done this before.

    You don't have to sit perfectly straight to start straightening your horse.


    • #3
      Shoulder-in, turn on the haunches in the walk, and more shoulder-in. Shoulder-in on straight lines, on circles, at the walk and trot, and shoulder-fore in the canter. And then repeat over the course of several months.

      It helps you and your horse learn to keep the haunches still and move the shoulders in relation to the haunches, which is what will eventually make the horse straight: the ability to move the shoulders in front of the haunches.

      I've been dealing with the same thing myself in my mare who likes to throw her haunches to the inside during the right-lead canter. After about 2 months of work, she is pretty straight now.


      • #4
        A horse has to become laterally supple and responsive to all of the aids to become truely straight. It's not an easy fix. Basic lateral work, turn on the forhand and leg yielding, is a good way to start. From there you can go to what is the best straightening excercise...the shoulder in (or the milder version, the shoulder fore). All of these require lessons from a good dressage instructor to make sure they are done correctly and productively.

        A few basic tips for your green horse though.....if she's drifting/weaving, remember that forward creates straightness (not really in the body, but in terms of the direction one is travelling). If she's falling in, I would stop and do a turn on the forhand. If she's falling out, I would try a little counter bend. Make sure that you never overbend her neck or pull the inside rein to turn, as these are common causes of crookedness.


        • #5
          look here read al of page one and all links its all relvent
          work the horse in all walk and all trot paces then move upto canter paces on a sqaure arena or mark one out 20x60 or 20 x80 so you lenghten and shorten your strides using the half halt stride which will help you help the horse to use himslef to become more balanced by getting his hocks underneath him get you paces then do move up to the movements of si and ly you cant ask those unless you can get straight forwards and focused
          get the basic in of lateral work then move up into si and and ly



          • #6
            You have to teach your horse to bend correctly on the circles before they can be straight.


            • #7
              When they are bending correctly on the circle, they are straight.


              • #8
                Hampton Bay, lstevenson, gls - thanks!! This is exactly what we are doing and your posts serve as a quick "cheat sheet" for me!
                a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                • #9
                  Check out last month's Dressage Today where they recap their favorite training article of all time, written by Carole Grant, all about straightness, relative straightness, and how to get there. You can read the original article online.


                  • #10
                    There is 'as straight as the horse can be expected to be, at this point in his training', and that is a different amount of straightness at every stage of his training.

                    I think people have often (incorrectly) interpreted that to mean, 'I'm at level X, so I don't have to work on straightness'.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BaroquePony View Post
                      You have to teach your horse to bend correctly on the circles before they can be straight.
                      I was taught that circles can help straighten some, but others take other exercises. We're working on this with my guy, and it involves making sure that I'm feeling straight correctly and also bringing his shoulders over...circles help us none (and we are under a very competent instructor). We also work on really yielding the haunches in the corners and activating that inside leg (almost "drifting" them out) sharpening him to the aids, and then, like I said, bringing the shoulders to the inside track just a tad.
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