LONG AND LOW FRAME – I’VE GOT THE POWER!
Are you aware of the power of working your horse in a long and low frame?
I am making a clear distinction here between Long, deep and round – Low, deep and round – and Long and Low. Because my horse is young, 80% of my training is done in a long and low frame with the poll never coming above the level of the withers until the last 10 minutes of the session.
So, how do you achieve a long and low frame?
Allow your horse walk on a long rein and when you take up the contact, take it slowly, maintaining soft, following hands on a longer rein that you usually school with.
When ready for trot ensure it is forward (this is essential), keep your hands low, use your fingers to squeeze and release the inside rein. Ideally your horse will drop his head for a stride or two and travel with a round frame. You want him to seek the bit forward, you need to maintain a contact but do not hold the horse together, if all is well he will offer to stretch down but you must give and react quickly enough to ensure that your horse is rewarded for his efforts.
If you get a bit wobbly in your seat it’s because you are relying on your hands for balance! This is BAD and another good reason to work your horse long and low is to improve your own balance and reduce dependence upon your hands.
You will definitely know if you have got it. Your horses back will lift up to your seat. This lifting sensation is unmistakeable and exactly as described. Sensational!
This is an emotive subject … see pictures and feel free to comment.
Patricia – The Dressage Tipster
What do you do if the horse is stretching at the walk into the contact on a long rein, but then raises its head once you ask for the trot? Do you keep the reins long and weight for the horse to relax and come back down, or what?
Once you have established a good stretch on a long rein with a contact you should vibrate the outside rein in order to ask the horse a little lower before the transition into trot and continue to vibrate through the transition strides. You may need to open the rein a little. i.e. take your hands out away from the horses neck (no more than an inch each side) to encourage the contact forward. Once up into the trot cease the vibrations and put your hands back to normal position. You should do this until your horse is happily taking the contact forward from walk to trot. Then you can gradually reduce the amount of vibrations you do until it is simply a half-halt before the transition. Try to be smooth with the way you vibrate and move your hands so as not to upset the horses mouth. Remember, you are communicating with him through the rein. Try not to shout!