Falling in could be caused by the rider. Thus, riding parallel to the wall on the quarter line can become a challenge to the
rider who uses an indoor arena and becomes dependent on the wall. Riding away from the wall on the quarter line not only tests
whether the horse is straight, but helps the rider learn to keep the horse straight and develop its gymnastic balance. Riding
away from the wall requires better aid coordination from the rider, because the horse will not stay on a straight line without
the correct aids to keep it straight.
Check rider position
If a rider is not sitting in a balanced
seat, he can cause the horse to be crooked and not track straight. Often, riders are not even aware of this. Over a period
of time, their faulty position and balance are reflected in the horses body.
Riders should check their position in
a mirror and/or have a good instructor to correct it. Also, the saddle must be checked for its symmetry and balance. If a
rider continually sits unevenly, a saddle will also become uneven and will need restuffing.
Rhythm and Straightness
When the horse stays rhythmic at a trot
on a circle is the time to develop straightness. If you are trying to slow it down while making it straight, this will destroy
the horses unconstrained movement.
If a horse rushes on straight lines,
put the horse back onto the circle until it stops rushing and becomes rhythmic. Then return to the straight lines. Constantly
test for rhythm by riding across the diagonal, or down the quarter line and center line. Every time the horse begins to rush
on a straight line, immediately return to a 20-meter circle. Eventually, both horse and rider will learn to maintain rhythm.
To make a horse straight, the rider must
consciously ride straight lines with the horse. We cannot expect the horse to be straight on its own; we have to put it straight.
By knowing which aids straighten the horses barrel, and then its neck and head, the rider will eventually acquire the ability
to straighten the horse from its tail to its poll.
Straightening at walk,
trot and canter.
Basically, the following principles to
straighten a horse apply whether the horse is walking, trotting or cantering. It is best to learn on the quarter line so the
rider can check if his aids are being effective.
It will help with all straightening work
if the rider focuses his eyes on an object directly in front of him and stays on a direct line toward that object. Remember
to give your horse enough room to turn at the end of the arena.
If the haunches fall out, such as at
the trot, it requires bringing the outside leg back to push the horses haunches in line with the shoulders. The outside rein
has to be used simultaneously to keep the horse from coming away from the wall or the straight line you are traveling on.
The inside leg keeps the horse from moving its body too far to the inside, as well as maintaining the rhythm of the gait.
The inside rein maintains contact.
withers to poll.
To absorb more contact use a direct outside
rein by bringing the elbow back towards your hip. Your leg aids, especially the outside leg, have to be on the horse so the
extra outside rein pressure does not take the horse in that direction. As the outside rein lines up the horses neck and head
to the center of its shoulders, the inside rein has to give forward to allow the horse to straighten. If the inside rein stays
tight, the horse will not be able to move its neck to the center.
Straightening the whole
All the above straightening aids, from
the tail to the withers, and the withers to the poll, have to be used simultaneously. For example, as the outside rein straightens
the horse that turns its head to the right, one might have to push the haunches that fall out back in with the outside leg.
One must realize that straightening a
horse is not a routine exercise, set aside from ten minutes of a horse's 25-minute workout, but a constant correction throughout
each movement. In other words the awareness and the ability to ride a horse straight must be practiced and dealt with during
each step you and your horse take.
Using Circles to Straighten your Horse
Ironically, circling will also help to
straighten a crooked horse or a horse that is over bent in one direction. A horse that over bends to the right can develop
straightness by being worked on a circle to the left. This is because a horse
that over bends to the right has contracted muscles on his right side. Therefore, working a horse on a circle to the left
helps the muscles on the right side get longer, provided the rider does not let the horse stay bent to the right as it travels
to the left.
A more advanced horse can be ridden in
a counter position that is, the horse tracks on a circle right, but the rider has the horses body positioned to the left.
One must remember not to exercise the
horse excessively in one direction thinking that this will help it become straighter faster, but to work both sides equally.