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Keys of Straightness Training

When you want to do Straightness Training, you need to know that Straightness Training consists of 6 keys.

These keys allow the horse to develop symmetrically in body and limbs.

And all keys are related because one key will open the door the next.

The result of all six keys is a balanced and symmetrical horse:

  • The horse can bend to both sides,
  • has equal shoulder freedom,
  • pushes and carries equally with the hind legs,
  • and can carry more weight with both hind legs, to free the fragile front legs.


Well, time to reveal what each key is about:

 Keys of straightness training Key 1: Lateral bend
The first step of straightness training is the lateral bend of the horse. With lateral bend, we mean the equal lateral bend of the body. By stretching short muscles and contracting long, weak muscles, the horse can bend laterally to both sides..
 Keys of straightness training
. . .
 Keys of straightness training Key 2: Forward-down
When the horse releases its back as a result of the lateral stretching of key 1, the horse can lower its neck forward-down. By stretching the outside of the body, the back muscle on that side lengthens. A long back muscle cannot keep the head of the horse up, causing the horse to lower its head into a forward-down position...
 Keys of straightness training
. . .
 Keys of straightness training Key 3: Stepping under
Correct lateral bending engages the inside hip, causing the inside hind leg to step towards the point of weight. The forward-down movement of the horse makes the hind leg swing forward. Correct stepping under is a requirement to be able to work on the next keys (bending the hind legs)...
 Keys of straightness training
. . .
 Keys of straightness training Key 4: Bending of the inside hind leg
When the horse can perform proper lateral bending, it is capable of stepping under the point of weight with its inside hind leg. Then, this hind leg can start to assume some of the weight from the front legs, making it bend more. This is done through shoulder-in..
 Keys of straightness training
. . .
 Keys of straightness training Key 5: Bending of the outside hind leg
The next key is to bend the hind leg as an outside hind leg. This is done through haunches-in. The outside hind leg steps under the point of weight, which causes it to bend. The haunches-in reduces the pushing of the outside hind leg and stimulates it to carry weight. This is also done through the renvers and half pass...
 Keys of straightness training
. . .
 Keys of straightness training Key 6: Bending of both hind legs
When the horse has learned to bend its body and both hind legs individually, we can ask the horse to bend both hind legs simultaneously. We use the exercises pirouette and piaffe. A straight horse now allows itself to be collected and lifted in the front..
Keys of straightness training

Now we have a good overview of all 6 keys, let’s start to focus on:

The first 3 keys

The first three keys are also called the LFS:

  1. Lateral bend
  2. Forward-down
  3. Stepping under

Click on the video for an explanation about the LFS:

Would you like to learn more about the six keys?

We are happy to explain!

But we need some more videos for that, so:

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16 thoughts on “Keys of Straightness Training

Comment author said

By Lorna Scott on 22 August 2015 at 16:04

Doing well slowly but surely with your training , both i and my horse eddy are enjoying it . Thanks


Comment author said

By Pam Stanner on 23 August 2015 at 06:18

I have been working on these very things with my horse to help him bend more in the ribs and use his hind end more. The instructions are very easy to understand and I love the videos she uses to illustrate her points.


Comment author said

By Vivienne Owen on 23 August 2015 at 19:33

Loved the video , have a new youngster and going to start working on this tomorrow. Am hopeless on the comouter, so just hope I can keep downloading information, just have to find out how to save it all !!!! Thank you Marijke sending you huge hugs vivi xx


Comment author said

By Susan Green on 24 August 2015 at 03:02

Thank you for your clear explanations and videos. I have just started on straightness training and am looking forward to doing it. It is a very gentle and calming method and so good for the horse.


Comment author said

By Lisa on 24 August 2015 at 13:34

Excellent with very clear explanation of the first 3 keys.


Comment author said

By Kathryn Willcox on 26 August 2015 at 17:11

Thank you Marijke…….I’ve only just had the time to ‘stay in one place’ long enough to sit/watch and begin to learn about Straightness Training. I’m looking forward to applying it now!!


Comment author said

By susan beavis on 8 October 2015 at 11:39

Very helpful as always, many thanks for sharing, my horse is becoming much more balanced therefore much more mentally with me and emotionally fit, Big thankyou for helping to join the dots.


Comment author said

By Julie Bloomhall on 23 October 2015 at 18:33

.Your explanation video was very clear and well done. I am so encouraged to begin the training system. Te cavesson arrive yesterday and your video timing is perfect. I will go out and begin today. I just had a conventional german style lesson yesterday things went alright but with this extra assistance my trainer will be amazed as I have not told her that I am beginning ST. In fact I am staying quiet with everyone because I have a Lipizzan and I have had problems with traditional training with him. He is very sensitive but a good horse with a lot of talent and natural ability. He reminds me of your horse Meistro so much. I will be so thrilled when everyone notices the dramatic difference in him. They will no laonger say that I should make him a carriage horse.
Thank you so much for this training as it is exactly what I need to help my horse.


Comment author said

By Gaynor lilley on 13 November 2015 at 10:19

Helped me as this is what im working on right now with guidece from Rebecca Gilbert


Comment author said

By Gail Seddon on 2 December 2015 at 12:53

Thank you for these wonderful and very helpful videos. I started yesterday. I was hard going as I was a little fumbley and my horse was thinking I wanted her go go off on the lungs even though she was close to me. Practice makes perfect !! Yey!!!


Comment author said

By Sandi on 6 December 2015 at 23:17

Love the videos. We work on circles daily now and I find that my horse is much happier when she is more comfortable in her movement.


Comment author said

By Karen Noll on 20 December 2015 at 15:19

It is so encouraging to receive these videos… just when I think I will stop for a while, there you are with more ideas and help! Thank you!


Comment author said

By Michelle on 19 February 2016 at 17:50

Love your videos… interested to find out what saddle you are riding Toronto in at the end? :o) Thank you.


Comment author said

By Margit Terp on 31 March 2016 at 20:24

Thank you for your clear explanations and videos. Love your videos. We are working by cirkel and forword down.


Comment author said

By Judy Rothwell on 12 April 2016 at 15:25

Thankyou for the video, my Poppy is really taking it all in and relaxing into the work. I stumbled upon you as l needed gentle exercises l could do on the ground with Poppy, before I return to riding since a big spinal operation.


Comment author said

By Sasha on 6 May 2016 at 00:47

This was a super helpful video. I really like the fact you’ve broken it down into smaller segments. It’s also very helpful and encouraging to see what a horse starting training will look like as most often you only get to see an end result. I’m looking forward to starting with my youngster. Keep the videos coming!


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