Horse-Riding: The Crooked and Runaway Horse

The Crooked Horse
A horse that is moving above the bit because he is crooked needs only to be straightened and he will step up to the bit instantly. A rider who can align the horse’s spine by controlling the relative position of the horse’s forehand to his haunches will access the hind legs. Once the spinal alignment is secured, the rider should drive to load the horse’s hind legs evenly. This activity includes the slowing of the. horse until his strides on both sides are equal to the length the horse performs with his shorter-striding hind legs. Even length and height of strides with both hind legs are dependent on the rider’s abilities to align the horse’s spine, as well as his ability to sense how to even up the strides of the hind legs. This important activity was turned into the age-old advice, “Straighten your horse and ride him forward.” Indeed, in misinterpretation, this is being “translated” into running horses off their legs at top speed. The admonition, however, was meant to address the cognoscenti who knew its meaning to be “Spinal alignment, followed by equal use of the hind legs” yields the “straight horse, moving correctly forward by loading the hind legs evenly.”

The Runaway Horse
A horse that is running because he finds his rider not a weight but a frightening burden will need to be slowed down through repeated half-halts in order to flex toward the bit. All horses can be slowed down through half-halts, the rider indicating a desire to walk. Just before the horse walks, the rider must yield on the reins, without losing contact, however, and allow the horse to slowly trot on. If repeated, this will convey to the horse that he may trot, but slower. Eventually, he will relax, find his balance, feel a more harmonious rider accompanying him, and will gently accept contact on the bit. On a rushing horse, it is essential to slow the tempo to the point where the horse allows himself to be drivable! As long as the rider travels on a running horse like a passenger and dares not contact his horse’s sides with his legs, the horse will not flex to seek the bit.

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