Questions of straightness. Position of the ribcage.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Sunday, October 28, 2007 10:16 PM
A horse is not straight. It has one side hollow and another one bulging out sideways. For my particular situation I have left side hollow and right one bulging out. The left rein is soft and I usually have more bend to the left then I need. The right rein feels stiff and if I want Rory to turn right she wheels around like a motorcycle, falling in to the right with no bend. To correct it I need to create a right bend through her whole body. Softening of the right rein will not be enough. Her bulging out ribcage has to come to the left to stay vertical behind the shoulders and her hindquarters have to straighten. What I mean by that is the pelvis has to be level and perpendicular to the body plane. Right now it is not. Right now her pelvis is tilted and crooked, right side up and back. It is very easy for her to step under herself with the left hind leg and carry the weight and it is very hard for her to do the same with the right hind leg. Her right hind leg wants to push more and doesn't want to step under the body.
It is impossible to create absolutely symmetrical animal. Even the most trained horse will have different sides. However, as with the humans the effect can be minimized and controlled. To start working on that we need to ask for the right bend with inside leg including the thigh. When you want to turn to the right open your right rein to show your horse where to go and then use your inside leg to move the ribcage to the left. At first your horse will not understand and resist, continue touching her with your inside calf and pressing your thigh down vertically (some initial work in hand can be very beneficial to teach your horse to step away from the touch of the whip). You will feel the weight in the rein, do not be tempted to pull. Play with your fingers and wait. As soon as your horse gives you her ribcage, she will soften the bit. Do not forget outside rein, you need it to catch your horse as she lets go and move her ribcage to the left. You will feel a stretch in your left rein. Another job for the left rein is not to let shoulders move out together with the ribcage. If that happens you will have too much bend in the neck and no bend in the body. Ribcage will not change its relation to the shoulders.
Learn to feel the rearrangement of the ribcage under your seat. On a crooked horse you do not feel even and vertical. It feels like one side is down and hollow and another one is up and bulging out under your thighs. When your horse straighten herself everything become much more symmetrical.
This is only the small portion of many problems that needs to be solved while working on straightness. I wanted to talk about it because I think it is an important piece that is rarely discussed in lessons.
Happy riding...
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