The unequal weight distribution between front legs and hind legs is a dimension of natural asymmetry and this dimension is the so-called horizontal imbalance.
Because of the relatively heavy head and neck, the front legs carry more weight than the hind legs, which causes the horizontal imbalance.
Naturally, all horses carry about 3/5th of their weight on the shoulders and 2/5th on the hind legs.
Lets say that a horse weighs 500 kilos, then 300 kilos are carried on the front legs and 200 kilos on the hind legs.
When there is no rider sitting on the horse, the horizontal imbalance and the weight on the horse’s front legs is not a problem. The problems arise when the extra weight of the rider is added to the fragile front legs and the horse is not straight.
Symptoms with the weight of the rider
When a rider rides a horse that moves in its natural horizontal imbalance, the following symptoms can arise:
- The horse leans on the rein and uses the hand of the rider for support, like a fifth leg.
- The horse can overreach because the front legs are too slow leaving the ground.
- The horse shows little shoulder-freedom.
- An unbalanced horse can become tense. A tense horse has problems relaxing and can sometimes show resistance to the rider.
- A tense horse will not give the rider a light, equal, elastic and vivid contact with the bit.
- An unbalanced horse will lose its rhythm when making transitions in tempo.
- The horse moves "downhill”.
- Due to the weight of the rider that is added to the front legs, strain injuries can occur.
For the horse to be able to carry a rider properly and in good balance, we need Straightness Training. Thanks to the exercises of ST we can shift the center of mass more back and as a result the horse will start to move 'up hill' :
What about your horse?
- Does your horse feels heavy on the reins?
- Does he have a 'hard mouth?'
- Does he stumble a lot?
- Are the back hoofs taping the front hoofs during riding?
- Or is he light in your hands?
- And is he moving 'uphill'?
Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below!