January 10, 2003, Newsletter Issue #107: Dressage Tips

Tip of the Week

What is Longitudinal Balance, and how to develop it in the horse?

Longitudinal Balance is the horse`s balance as it relates to the fore and rear quarters. How the horse engages the rear quarters in development and utilization of the rear in order to provide impulsion, that is required for any forward movement, for any and all disciplines.

Longitudinal Balance is referred to how the horse engages his rear quarters and to what degree he extends his forequarters to receive the rear power or impulsion.

Ideally, every horse should be equal in fore and rear longitudinal balance in movement, of all gaits. The Longitudinal Balance is probably the most difficult to develop in all Breeds of Horse, and in each individual horse. Although it is best to strive for perfection, also realize and understand that it is almost impossible to achieve. This is due to mental ability, conformation, and availability of arena, and Coach/Rider in the development of each particular horse in its particular ability.

The beginnings of the development of longitudinal balance is in use of up and down transitions: such as walk--trot--walk--canter--halt--walk--trot--collected walk--extended canter--collected trot--(I think you understand the use!??)

Start with ten (10) strides at each gait, then after a few weeks of practice, shorten to 7 strides, after a few more weeks, shorten to 5 strides at each gait, then 3 and eventually down to 2 strides. This should take place over a minimum of six months of time in frame of the reduction of strides.

And, always remember, once the horse is showing frustration, or reluctance, then move on to extended movements, performed at only one gait several revolutions of the entire arena, while staying on track.

Don`t burn out the mind of your horse with these up and down transitions, or you will burn out your horse from wanting to learn and develop more balance, perhaps only with you.

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