August 3, 2023

0:00 this is the horse's natural head-carriage.
0:05 the horse elevates in the trot transition.
This is called being inverted.

This drops the back and makes it so the horse can't engage her hind legs under her to carry your weight.

To relate to this better, try crawling on all fours with your head looking either up or down—notice how it affects your ability to bring your legs forward.

To address this issue, I recommend working on improving your horse's bend. It's crucial for your horse’s overall performance and well-being.

Although I have some specific courses that cover this topic in-depth, I'll give you a quick tip that you can practice right away.

Start by working on groundwork exercises that promote bending. And, both on the ground and when riding, imagine an arc , or bend and practice your up and down transitions on this curved line.

Bend requires lateral flexion, which most horses do not do well one way. The Key To Unlocking Your Horse's Bend’ has a groundwork, and a ridden lesson, and is something you should be consistently working on with all horses (and most people don't).

When a horse is bending correctly through the body it engages the inside hind leg under the body. This both makes it harder for them to invert and starts to strengthen that leg to be able to support more weight on the hindquarters.

Then I would do all my up and down transitions on an arc, with bend.

Only once you can maintain your horse’s natural head carriage on bend through the transitions would I gradually straighten that line of travel.

Then you'll be asking then to stay engaged, as you did on bend, but not allowing the bend. That will make more sense once you have it working on bend.

This rider also said she was working on collecting her horse to make her trot more comfortable.

I have some thoughts on this as well.

Notice how in those first 10 seconds, that as she trots the horse’s hind feet do Not land in the tracks of the front feet. They fall short by at least 6".

We want her hind feet to land in, or ahead of the front feet tracks.

That's called tracking up.

When she's tracking up, her hind feet will be reaching under her to better support the weight.

That's crucial for her back to come up and her head to come down correctly, ensuring both of you are comfortable.

The head can come down without tracking up, but the weight will be on the forehand and we need to teach them to have weight equally on all 4 feet, and sometimes more on the hind feet.

Before considering collecting or slowing her down, let's focus on achieving proper tracking up to avoid any unnecessary strain on her body.

If we do it before then, she will have to fake it, and it won't be biomechanically correct.

I know you want to help your horse perform their best and last a long time, so I teach from that perspective, rather than using shortcuts.

And finally, as long as the horse’s head is up (inverted) don't do sitting trot.

Yes, western riders do rising trot, and don't let anyone tell you they don't.

You want what's best for your horse, so getting off their back for half of every stride allows her back to come up because it transfers your weight to your stirrups, just behind her withers, rather than back by her loins.

As she engages her hind end and gets stronger, you won't need to rise and will be able to ask her to travel at a slower tempo, or with more collection.

Also, when you do the rising trot, you’ll want to open and close your elbows so your hands stay steady relative to the saddle and her mouth.

You can practice doing shallow knee bends in the kitchen with your hands in holding reins position and your pinkies in light contact with the counter top.

While I have courses that cover these topics in detail, I understand you may not have them yet, however, the concepts I've shared with you in this article are valuable, and you can start working on them right away.

In addition to The Key to Unlocking Your Horse’s Bend, which I mentioned earlier and is a great place to start, I also recommend you get the Single Slalom, Bend & Balance Course which includes the flexion lessons too, and gives you a fun way to work on and measure your progress on bending, tempo, and engagement.

They are available as a package and are the two main ones I recommended to this rider for the variety of issues presented in the full video

So, fellow riders, improving your skills is a process that takes patience, practice, and knowing your horse's unique needs. Observing how your horse travels, improving the transitions, and initially incorporating the rising trot will contribute significantly to your progress.

By paying attention to these aspects, you can help your horse become a more confident, agile, and relaxed partner, and build a strong, rewarding relationship.

Yes, the journey may have its hurdles, but the joy and sense of accomplishment that come with every successful stride are well worth it. So, harness these tips to refine your skills and make the most of your horse riding journey."

Click Here for The Key To Unlocking Your Horse's Bend

or Click Here for Both the Key To Unlocking Your Horse's Bend AND the Single Slalom, Bend and Balance Course

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About the author 

Trish Hyatt

International Coach and Clinician
National and International Top 10 Competitor
Technical Delegate and Judge of Working Equitation (retired)

Trish's superpower is the ability to give you and your horse what you need, in a way that you understand, so each horse and rider makes progress and knows what they need to work on.

She puts her many skills to use introducing the international discipline of Working Equitation to riders eager to improve their partnership with their horse, with a focus on fun, classical horsemanship and use of the horse for practical work or as cross-training for other disciplines.

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