When a horse travels crooked, it
affects it's physical well being, relaxation and more.
Most horses are one sided, as
we are left or right handed too. With good instruction, you need to work
on strengthening the weaker side and be made aware of which one that is.
Usually horses are weaker on the right rein but there are exceptions.
THE LITTLE KNOWN HUGE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE TRAINER
Have had many Thousands of 'Green Horses' through our Hands, it is indeed
surprising just how many have problems. It is not known by most Trainers
around the World but they should be taught how to feel 'Crookedness'
however subtle and to advise the Owner:
How to fix it
Set about fixing it it
Provide a Plan for the future
of how to ride such a Horse, to 'straighten' it and stop the onset of
further deterioration as the Horse starts to compensate further, with
the new weight of a Rider on board.
We can tell a crooked horse by watching it's footfalls. If it's hind feet
don't follow directly behind the footfalls of it's front feet it is
crooked. Another way to identify crookedness is by watching the tips of
it's ears. If one ear tip is higher than the other, it is crooked too. If
we watch it's blaze down the face and it isn't straight down from the
forehead to the nose ,the Horse is also crooked ( provided it has a
straight blaze of course). Sometimes this can be caused by sharp teeth as
As a rider it can be hard to tell true
straightness or crookedness.
When sitting in the saddle, you need to feel comfortable and be able to
sit 'central'. Crooked horses push you crooked in the saddle, usually to
the outside. Resulting in shortening of your inside leg and making it hard
to keep your inside heel down and sitting on your inside seat bone. This
is especially evident on circles and turns. If we are not sitting central
the horse can't be balanced either. It would therefore hold tension in the
muscles in the back as a result. When muscles are tight for a prolonged
period of time, pain develops. Pain often leads to lameness or bad
Over time if horses are ridden crooked, they become one sided. They build
more muscle tone on one side of their bodies and have muscle degeneration
on the other. Uneven muscle development often progresses to lameness. This
is because especially in trot, which is a two beat movement, the diagonal
pairs of legs move at the same time on every stride, meaning one pair of
muscles can push more power than the other. The stronger hind quarter has
more strength to propel the weight of the horse forward.
In canter it becomes evident by the crooked horse two tracking. This is
when the hind quarters come to the inside track whilst the front legs
remain on the original track. Two tracking happens when the horse is
weaker on the inside hind leg and therefore brings their hind quarter to
the inside to avoid weight bearing on it. It doesn't want to carry it'self
'off the forehand' and sit.
This places more stress on the
horse's front limbs which in turn can cause deterioration of joints and
result in things like ring bone. On the forehand ,the horse doesnt come
over the back and swing the back, which is critical to him remaining sound
allowing it to use itself correctly and allowing relaxation during the
work. Like us relaxation is important to ensure the happiness to do the
If muscle tone is allowed to drop away by the horse going crooked, it is
very hard to rehabilitate the horse. Like body building in the gym for
humans, it takes months to build muscle. Often if soreness is present,
veterinary and or chiropractic intervention becomes necessary.
As the discomfort needs to be
controlled in order for the horse to be able to trust in it's ability to
use the muscles that have been hurting. The horse needs to use the
degenerated muscles to build them slowly by stretching them a little more
Correct riding and training is also a large part of the rehabilitation.
Training using the German training scale is paramount.
Straightness is part of it and
an important ingredient. Without straightness you will not achieve
collection and can't get real impulsion. So the crooked horse, if not
struck down by soundness issues, will not advance up the dressage levels.
As he simply can't do it when he is not equal on both reins.
By Linda OLeary