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posted by Horse Owner Today    |   May 29, 2011 10:40

A horse is said to be straight when its forehand is in line with its hindquarters, that is when its longitudinal axis is in line with the straight or curved track it is following.  In Germany, the horse is then also said to be ‘covering the track’.

Straightness is necessary in order for the weight to be evenly distributed over the two halves of the body.  It is developed through systematically training and suppling (‘gymnasticizing’) both sides of the body equally.

Most horses are naturally crooked.  Like right- and left-handedness in humans, this crookedness has its origins in the brain and is something the horse is born with.  Also, the horse’s shoulders are narrower than its hindquarters which further encourages it to be crooked.

In most cases, the right hind foot is set down further to the right than the right forefoot.  As a result, the right hind leg has to push forward more while the left hind leg is required to bend more.  Also, the left foreleg is subjected to more wear and tear.

If more weight is transferred onto the hindquarters, so that the hind legs are required to bend more, the left hind leg will be able to bend but the right leg will try to avoid doing so by stepping sideways, outside the track of the right forefoot.

Straightness is necessary for the following reasons:

• So that the horse’s weight is evenly distributed on both sides, and to avoid excessive wear and tear on the limbs on one side

• So that the horse can push equally and effectively with its hind legs (to optimize the forward thrust)

• So that the rider can keep the horse on the aids properly and develops its suppleness (Durchlässigkeit)

• To enable the horse to have an even contact on both sides

• In order to obtain collection

Only if the horse is straight can it be equally supple an’through’ (Durchlässigkeit) on both reins.

If the horse is straight, the hind legs will push exactly in the direction of the center of gravity.  The restraining aids will then also pass through the horse correctly, via the mouth, poll, and neck and back to the hindquarters, and they will act on both hind legs equally.

Straightening the horse is a never-ending task, since every horse has some degree of natural crookedness.

Straightness is a precondition for collection since only if the horse is straight can the weight be transferred onto both hind legs equally.