Straightness training is used to turn a horse into a healty, right moving riding horse. However straightness training is an important base for every discipline. The reason behind this is the natural crookedness of the horse. Horses are not build to carry us around, so when we do mount our horse we need to teach the horse to carry this weight in the right way. Moreover the horse should balance out his own weight to move easy without overpressure. You can teach your horse this by doing the straightness training exercises. These exercises will help the horse to find balance and develop more symmetrical.
Just as humans horses have a prefered side. Since a horse has four legs, this preference can differe between front- and hindlegs. Most of the times a horse carries most of his weight on the frontlegs. This way it is easier for the horse to take little steps while grazing. A rider will add an aditional weight on the frontlegs of the horse. If the horse is not corrected and trained to be more in balance, this can cause problems, overpressure and injuries in the horse’s body. Due to this training the horse will often move easier and be more relaxed both physically and mentally.
In my training I follow the principles of straightness training of the Academic art of riding.
Academic art of riding
The Academic art of riding is based on the knowledge of the grandmasters in the classical dressage, for example: Pluvinel, La Guérinière and Steinbrecht. In their time horses were trained with another purpose. Usually they prepared the horses for war, whereby obedience and maneuverability was a matter of life or death. However the horses were also appreciated for their elegance, that ofcourse automatically descended on the rider. The Academic art of riding aims to help the horse stay healthy and develop strenght and flexibility with gymnastic exercises, whereby the natural movements of the horse are refined into an elegant, but functional way of moving.
The education starts with the working from the ground, handwork and longeing. All done with the use of a cavesson. This way the horse learns to find balance on his own legs without a rider. Later on these exercises will be taught while riding, developing into the side movements, pirouettes, flying changes and piaffe. The ultimate goal is learning the horse the Haute Ecole exercises, as you for example see in the Spanish riding school. Most trainers will not achieve this goal, which doesn’t matter. Having fun and enjoying the moment is the most important.
Grandmaster in the Academic art of riding is Bent Branderup, for more info click the link below:
Centered Riding© is founded by Sally Swift. She developed this method using four basics: breathing, soft eyes, balance and centering. These techniques help promote suppleness, stability and clearer aids, making riding more comfortable for both horse and rider. Centered Riding derives techniques from for example Feldenkrais, Alexander technique and martial arts.
“The ultimate goal of Centered Riding is not to be a discipline unto itself. It must go forward in it’s purest and least complicated form os it may be integrated into all disciplines of riding.”
– Sally Swift
Below you can see a few pictures of my lesson with Deborah Moynihan (level 4 instructor) at 1 november 2015. The focus of this lesson was releasing and opening my hips.