How do you ride an asymmetrical horse?

asymmetry asymmetrical dressage riding tips

We all want to ride a correct moving, straightened horse. But what can you do when your horse is still asymmetrical?

A member of Rien van der Schaft’s online training asked him during a live Q&A how she could best ride an asymmetrical horse. Rien van der Schaft gave her the following advice.

Every horse is asymmetrical, one more than the other.

It’s the same with people. Everybody has a preferred hand for writing and a preferred leg to kick a ball with.

When we talk about asymmetry with a horse, we often speak of a hollow and stiff side.

The horse has more weight on the shoulder on the stiff side and is often heavier on the rein on that side.

The horse is often on the hollow side lighter on the rein and has his head aligned to the direction of the hollow side.

So it’s understandable that your horse wants to look inside when you’re riding on the hollow side and that he wants to look outside when you’re riding on the stiff side.

Luckily you can improve and even solve asymmetry.

But it’s then important that you work with the entire body and not just with your hand.

The first response that we riders have when we’re riding an asymmetrical horse, is to work him through his stiff side.

We use our reins to get the horse more ‘loose’ on the stiff side and try to align the head and the neck more to the inside of the arena.

Most horses will eventually surrender, just because they want to get rid of the pressure on the rein. But you don’t solve the asymmetry in their body with that.

You don’t fix aymmetry with your hands

What you can do, is to make sure that, everytime you go riding, you try to ride the horse’s stiff side a little bit inside by using your leg.

So that you try to push away the weight of the shoulder where he’s stiff.

For example, imagine that you’re riding to the right and your horse is stiff on the left side.

You then ride onto the long side of the arena and push slightly with your left leg, so you’re riding your horse a little bit towards his right shoulder.

You can also leg-yield in the direction of the center line.

You can use this exercise as many times as you want, untill your horse is less asymmetrical.

But it is important that you practice this for a longer period of time.

You can’t spend two minutes in your training to the straightening of your horse and expect the same result.

Another requirement is that your horse is active, forward and drops his neck.

When he drops his neck, the vertebrae will, so to speak, roll together and the asymmetry will become less.

When your horse lifts his neck, the asymmetry will only become bigger. If you then ride this exercise, it will become a fight and a unsolvable case.

So everytime your horse drops his neck, you push slightly with your left leg, ask for a little bend to the left and before you reach the corner, you align your horse to the right again.

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