Last week I talked about why bend was crucial to horse movement, but before we can understand ‘good’ bend we need to be able to see how a horse moves. I set you a task to see the first basic principle of horse movement. If you haven’t read it CLICK HERE
So, how did you get on with seeing the stance (when the hoof is in contact with the ground) and the swing phase (when the leg is in in the air)?
Once you can see one step of one leg and identify the swing and stance phase of a single leg as the horse is moving forwards, take a look at the other legs. A stride is made up of all four legs completing their swing and stance phase. You can count one stride from the start of the stance phase of one leg until the next time that leg starts its stance phase.
How many strides does your horse take from the field to the stable, along the long side of the arena or between telegraph poles on a hack?
Strides can get longer (fewer in a set distance) or shorter (more in a set distance). If you have not practised altering stride length, a good exercise is to lay two poles out about 20m apart and walk in a relaxed normal pace and count the number of strides your horse takes between each, then see if you can increase the number by taking shorter strides, or decrease the number by taking longer strides. This could be done inhand or ridden, in walk, trot or canter. If you are not sure how to shorten or lengthen your horse’s stride, ask you instructor/coach. Not only is it a good test of your training it is a gymnastic exercise for your horse.