Did you know that the natural asymmetry of our horses can cause a lot of problems?
Here are a few examples:
- Struggle to bend one way; the other is easy
- Leaning on the reins
- Strong, pushy hind legs
- A strongly developed underneck
- Difficulties to turn
- Speeding up automatically in the canter
- The saddle slides to one side
- It’s difficult to ride the horse on the bit
- Physical damage such as navicular disease and kissing spines
That’s why it’s so important that we recognize the symptoms of natural asymmetry and provide the solution by helping the horse to develop symmetrically in body and limbs.
And this is where we need Straightness Training.
Because Straightness Training consists of a logical and systematic system of exercises to develop the horse symmetrically.
Then, the end result is a straightened horse.
- is symmetrically developed in body and limbs;
- is symmetrical in movement and can perform all exercises equally to the left and to the right;
- and will let itself collect and lift in the front.
Also, it’s important to realize that only a straight horse lets itself be collected and lifted in the front to relieve the front legs and to support the back.
Here’s another interesting thing about Straightness Training.
You see, Straightness training can be seen as a kind of ‘horse yoga’ or ‘horse pilates’.
Bad confirmation and natural shortcomings can be corrected by training the horse while using proper exercises.
So we can solve different problems, correct a bad conformation, and solve lameness by helping the horse to do certain gymnastic exercises.
Interesting, isn’t it?
Let’s take a closer look here.
First, we should know that problems that can be solved are:
- stiff shoulders and/or a stiff back (seen in limited shoulder-freedom),
- problems with softening into the rider’s hand,
- and irregular movements.
But it doesn’t end there: even horses with navicular disease, kissing spines, crooked pelvis, and other major problems can be helped with Straightness Training.
Because for example the diagonal imbalance of the horse can lead to navicular disease and the imbalance between the topline/underline can cause kissing spines.
By making the horse perform straightening exercises that fit that specific horse, by making it use and relax the proper muscles and divide its weight equally over its legs, the rider can help the horse improve enormously.
A good rider is even capable of curing a horse that has been given up on by veterinarians!
Can you imagine that?
It may seem impossible but we have seen it happen before, and not just once!
Let’s watch the story of Cunera, the horse that the vets had no hope for:
The complete story of Cunera, including her training schedule, can be found in our full Mastery Program.
Another way to look at Straightness Training is as a movement therapy.
Now, movement therapy has played a major role in human medicine these last years.
For example, someone with certain back problems gets exercises to train his/her abdominal muscles and someone with a stiff arm gets different movement exercises to supple up.
More and more, human doctors are aware of the importance of physical training for their patients.
In some hospitals, patients even need to follow a fitness program before surgery to improve their chances for a speedy recovery afterward.
Well, this importance of doing fitness goes also for the health of our horses.
Many physical problems with horses can be better solved with exercises than just with physiotherapy, osteopathy or drugs.
Of course, these therapies are very valuable but often their effectiveness is improved when the horse also does well-thought gymnastic exercises.
And then there is another thing to consider:
Fighting symptoms or setting conditions?
This is an important question.
Because to get things truly fixed, it is always key to deal with the cause of the problems and not just with the symptoms!
Let me give you an example.
Some riders decide to use side reins and/or special bits to fix problems with the horse’s softness in the mouth, or the head/neck position.
Only, this is not advisable because this approach focuses only on the symptoms.
You see, the symptom of not coming towards the riders’ hands is not caused by something in the horse’s mouth but by the natural asymmetry of his muscles.
And to fix this cause, we need a totally different approach.
Nevertheless, draw reins are still used to make the horse lower its head and become soft and round.
Or a sharper bit is chosen.
But you see, all tools that are used to tie the horse in a certain position, and force it to hold its head in a certain way are, without exception, more harmful than helpful.
It usually even creates new problems such as:
- resisting the rider,
- placing the head behind the vertical,
- leaning on the riders’ hand,
- developing an underneck,
- or lameness.
Also, the saliva glands are squeezed between the lower jaw and the tensed underneck muscles, which can lead to infections and can inhibit the production of saliva.
Plus, these additional reins ruin the horse’s mouth, because the communication through the bit can only be done with the soft, feeling, living hand of a rider.
So don’t fight the symptoms, solve the problem.
In most cases, the natural asymmetry is the real problem:
It is a balance issue which can be solved by schooling the riding balance.
And it is a muscle issue which can be solved by training the muscles.
This schooling and training is called Straightness Training.