FEI Forum: Rhythm, Suppleness, Contact, Impulsion, Straightness, Collection
– No exercise can be good if the horse is losing rhythm. A loss of rhythm is often a sign of incorrect training. In order to judge the correctness of the rhythm, the judge must know how the horse moves in the basic paces.
– Lack of suppleness can take many different forms: tightness in the back, agitated tail, rhythm faults, hind legs lacking activity, a tense dry mouth and crookedness.
– Indications of suppleness are: Freedom from anxiety, a content expression. The elasticity of the steps â€“ the ability to stretch and contract the musculature smoothly and fluently. A quiet mouth gently chewing the bit with an elastic contact. A swinging back with the tail carried in a relaxed manner. Soft and rhythmical breathing, showing the horse is mentally and physically relaxed.
– Judges should always differentiate between:
1. Nose behind the vertical
2. Behind the bit, dropping the contact; the horse refuses to accept the bit.Often associated with this is a flexion at the vertebrae further down the necks rather than at the poll
3. Broken arch in the neck. The highest point of the neck is no longer the poll, rather at a point further back, usually between the second and third vertebrae.
4. Leaning on the bit. The horse is not working well from behind and is using the hands as a fifth leg.
5. Against the hand, above the bit. The nose is well in front of the vertical. The horse will not flex at the poll and uses the muscles of the underside of the neck to resist the hands, while at the same time stiffening and hollowing its back.
– Impulsion is a question of training. The rider uses the horseâ€™s natural paces and adds looseness, forward thrust and suppleness to it.
– Straightening a horse means also that the horse has to be able to be bent and flexed on both reins equally.
The main reasons for straightening are:
– To help the horse stay healthy and sound as the hind legs are being used equally
– To prepare the horse for collection. Only a straight horse can push and collect effectively using its hind legs equally and having an even contact in both reins. Only if the horse is straight can it be supple and through equally in both directions.
If the horse is straight, the hind legs will push towards the centre of gravity.
– To further develop and improve the balance of the horse
– To develop and increase the horseâ€™s ability to lower and engage its hindquarters for the benefit of lightness and mobility of the forehand
– To add to the ease and carriage of the horse therefore making him more pleasurable to ride