TIPS: Different “frames” of a young horse at trot
Let’s go briefly through different shapes of body in movement at trot that a young horse offers us during first lessons on the longeline. But this are just outlines, you have to listen to your horse to find out which shape is the best for him at which phase of the training (starting).
SCHOOL YOUR EYES SERIES: Best shape for this phase of the training
Here Chilly is in his best shape for this phase of the training of a young horse. His nose line is a little bit in front of the vertical (he is free at poles), his whole upperline (neck & back) are relaxed and let the base of the neck raise. He is starting to work with his abdominal muscles and find a new balance. His shift of weight is not too much on front feet, he’s carrying his back relaxed and smoothly. He is moving in a good rhythm. His hind legs are learning to bend more in joints and carry, not only push. The energy from behind can pass freely through the whole body. A horse trained in this way will become a very good back-mover (moving with a supple back, engaging well the hind).
SCHOOL YOUR EYES SERIES: Too low
Here Chilly is moving with the head and neck too low. In this posture/shape the base of the neck is not lifted, and the weight of the horse is too much on the forehand. His head and neck are in the way of his front feet. Therefore he’s making shorter steps with front feet. That’s disturbing for the rhythm and his hind legs are not carrying and bending. So his hind legs are not taking more weight, but doing long steps, just pushing forward. His field of sight is only 1-1,5 m in front of his head, so he can’t see the surroundings well and could get scared more frequently.
SCHOOL YOUR EYES SERIES: Too high
In this moment Chilly is carrying his head and neck too high. In this way he trains/strengthens the lower and side neck muscles, hollows and tenses his back and neck. Therefore his neck base is pushed down, so the energy from behind can’t pass freely through the whole body till his front legs, head and mouth, where one day it would connect with rider’s hands.
Horses that learn or are taught to move in this way for longer period of time, usually develop strong under-side neck. They move with hollow back and pelvis tilted forward. Because uneducated riders push them in “The Shape” with reins or legs, they try to compensate with some other muscles or body parts. This often leads to injuries. We call them leg-movers, because they can’t move with a supple back and move just with legs.
P.S.:Don’t mind the muddy stains, Chilly is young and eager to go, thus he can’t stand still for a long time during the brushing. But that’s not a problem at all, we have plenty of time to learn this lesson.