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forward-downThe long term goal of Straightness Training is achieving flexibility, gaining strength, build muscle and improving your horse’s overall health and maintaining it for a lifetime. This goal is achieved through a logical system of progressive exercises.

The very first exercise to teach the horse is in Straightness Training is, to bring its head and neck forward-down. The horse stands still in this exercise.


This is an important exercise to teach your horse the use of the cavesson and to relax the horse.

  • The cavesson is an important tool in the communication between horse and trainer. A horse must first learn to understand the feeling of the cavesson and the aids that can be given through it. By nature, the horse does not know it should move away from the pressure of the cavesson. It is important to teach the horse to move away from the pressure at an early stage. The horse must learn to trust the connection that is made with the trainer and the cavesson. This is why the first exercise is to teach the horse to bring its head and neck forward-down.
  • Doing this exercise puts the horse in a position that is relaxing, which helps to make the horse feel at ease.
  • Go as low with the head as when the underneck softens and relaxes. Don’t go lower, because this will bring the weight too much on the front legs.

Teaching the exercise to the horse

Straightness Training ExercisesAn important part of dealing with and training horses is the element “yielding to pressure’:

  1. You close your hand around and apply downwards pressure on the longe line connected to the cavesson.
  2. The horse yields downwards at the moment you apply pressure.
  3. The instant the horse yields, you should open your hand and release the pressure, and reward the horse.

Timing & dosing is key!

The better your timing and dosing of pressure and release, the better the horse will understand and execute this exercise.

Pitfall of the human being in the use of the pressure are the following ways of applying pressure:

  • Too long
  • Too much
  • Too often
  • Unexpected

As a result the horse will either go against your pressure (bringing the head up) or ignore your request (resisting in the same position).

So adequate timing and dosing of the pressure is important, but even more important is the release of the pressure!

So if you don’t get the expected result, change your approach, and refine your pressure/release technique.

How low should you go?

Often it is asked, how low should you go when you ask the horse to lower his head?

spierenThe horse should lower its head as far as the point when the muscles in the underside of the neck relax and the topline stretches. It is not necessary to go lower, because that will shift the weight of the horse too much onto the front legs.

And remember: is-lowering-of-the-head-enough‘Forward down’ is only one of the six keys of ST!

The lowering the horse’s neck is an important part of riding horses, but it is not the only part! We  need all six keys to avoid too much weight on the front legs and to develop our horse’s body in a healthy way.

Click here for additional articles about this topic:

The six keys of Straightness Training >>

Is lowering of the head and neck enough? >>

STart today: Sign up for free!

If you want to learn more about how to start doing the Straightness Training exercises, then join my free 4 part Mini Mastery Course!

This is what you’ll discover:

  • How to avoid the training pitfalls that I’ve fallen into, and almost every rider falls into, and which make training your horse ten times harder!
  • How to teach your horse a new exercise in a horse-friendly and stress-free way.
  • How to eliminate unnecessary stress, frustration, and disappointment, and fast-track your progression!
  • Six simple keys to make horse training and riding easy, no matter what discipline you’re in, and no matter what breed or age!

This mini course really is worth watching – not only useful insights and tips, but also seeing the learning stages that both a less experienced and more experienced horse had to go through to achieve the desired results.

All 4 video clips are accompanied by easy to understand theory and explanations, which makes it easy to follow and the processes even more clear!

Plus,  the downloadable manuals are very informative, useful and helpful!

So don’t miss out on it and join the course, it’s 100% free:

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One thought on “Forward-down

Comment author said

By Hayley on 10 November 2016 at 11:40

Hi thank you for all your amazing knowledge!
Can I ask, I have a young 3 year old not under saddle and I have just started the forward down and stelling using the cavesson, however he constantly chews and yawns when I do this, what could be the cause? Thank you


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