How to keep your horse straight with Hayley Watson-Greaves

How to keep your horse straight
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInGoogle+Email to someone

Do you find it hard to keep your horse straight during a dressage test? International dressage rider Hayley Watson-Greaves has an exercise to help.

Straightness and balance

Riders often wonder why their horse wobbles in a test, when he is fine at home. Nine times out of 10 it’s because he can’t balance himself. Most horses are used to hugging the fence line, but in a dressage arena you don’t have walls or a fence to rely on, there are just little boards around the edge.

By doing exercises off the wall, your horse will learn to balance himself, which will help him gain straightness.

Start with basic leg yield. It’s important to be very black and white at first, so when you put your right leg on, they move away from it to the left and when you put your left leg on, they move to the right.

Always use your leg first, but if they don’t respond you can back it up by slapping your boot with your whip to make a noise, so it comes from the leg area.

Inside flexion

Once you’ve got him off each leg you can start adding rein aids, and ask him to flex to the inside. You’re not asking for anything else, just little bit of flexion to the inside, so be really basic with the aids.

I start on the outside track, almost pushing the horse into the wall or fence of the arena with my inside leg, while asking for flexion with my inside hand.

Through to both reins

Then do the same exercise, working away from the fence to encourage him to find his own balance. When you touch the rein it doesn’t mean he has to turn left or right, you want him to stay on that line, keeping straight through his body, with a little bit of flexion to the inside.

I’m a great believer a horse can’t be straight unless he is through to both reins. A horse is normally crooked because he is hanging on one rein or loose on the other. By doing these exercises off the wall they learn to balance themselves, which helps them gain carriage and straightness.

For more great advice from Hayley don’t miss her Masterclass Xtra, which premieres on H&C Play on Friday 26 May at 9pm.

Filed under: , ,

Related Stories

Falsterbo Horse Show 2017 Horse & Country is excited to be bringing you all the action from the Falsterbo Horse Show, which is the biggest equestrian event in Sweden.
Top model Mattia Harnacke tells H&C why he loves horses H&C’s Dutch presenter, Daisy van Nieuwkasteele​ caught up with dressage rider and top model Mattia Harnacke at CHIO Rotterdam.
Windsor Horse Show welcomes the best of best The great and the good from the equestrian world are heading to London this week for the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
Want to see a stride? Get your canter right with this simple exercise Up-and-coming international eventer Becky Woolvern has a simple exercise that can help you establish a good canter rhythm and see a stride.
Two young event riders make their H&C and Badminton debuts H&C is following two talented young eventers, making their Badminton debuts in just a few weeks time, with two exciting new shows this weekend.