The long term goal of Straightness Training is achieving flexibility, gaining strength, build muscle and improving your horse's overall health and maintaining it for a lifetime. This goal is achieved through a logical system of progressive exercises.
Haunches-in is a side movement on three or four tracks. The shoulders follow the track along the wall and the hindquarter is bended inwards. In this exercise, the horse is bended laterally from neck to tail. The outside hind leg is stepping under the weight.
Shoulder-in and haunches-in are closely related exercises that complement each other very well:
- In shoulder-in, the inside hind leg steps under the point of weight. In haunches-in, it is the outside hind leg stepping under the point of weight.
- In shoulder-in, the shoulders are turned inwards, In the haunches-in, the hindquarter is bended inwards.
- In shoulder-in, the inside hind legs step in front of the outside legs. In haunches-in, the outside legs (front and hind) step in front of the inside legs.
- In haunches-in, the horse is looking in the direction it is going. In shoulder-in, the horse looks inwards while moving straight forward.
The goal of haunches-in is to teach the horse to step with his outside hind leg under the point of weight. The benefit is that this hind leg is required to bend more. Haunches-in encourages the outside hind leg to carry and makes the inside shoulder more light. The exercise increases the lateral bending and improves coordination of the limbs.
- When the haunches-in is carried out on a smaller circle a pirouette is the end result.
- When the haunches-in is carried out on a diagonal line, this is called the half-pass.
- When the horse in canter changes from renvers to the left to haunches-in to the right, this is a canter change.
How many tracks?
Haunches-in can be done on 3 and 4 tracks (and on 2,5 or 3,5 or 3,67 or 3,999 tracks 😉 ). The amount doesn't matter. What matters is that you choose the amount where your horse can support his body and center of mass best with both hind legs. And that depends on the conformation of your horse, if he has a long back or a shorter one, if he has long legs, or shorter ones. Just do the amount where he can move in optimal balance.
In man-to-man fights the haunches-in was used during the approach of each other.
Both hind legs followed the weapon line and because they did, the power of the hind legs was added to the weapon. This essence should always kept in mind while doing the exercise!
Also in haunches-in, the head of the horse was not in the way of the weapon.
Teaching the exercise to the horse
Haunches-in can only arise from a perfect LFS or shoulder-in. The horse should be comfortable with the stepping under with the inside hind leg, before teaching the haunches-in.
Haunches-in is first trained in hand before riding. As preparation, a small circle can be done to get the required lateral bending. In first instance, a few steps should be enough and when the horse gets stronger this can be built up towards an entire long side of the arena.
The exercise is first executed in walk, later on also in trot and canter.
- Haunches-in can be ridden on the straight line along the wall, through curves, and also in a circle
- The exercise can be done in walk, trot and finally also canter.
- When riding in a circle, the collection of the horse can be improved through this exercise, because the hind legs take shorter steps and take more weight.
- Fluent transitions from shoulder-in to haunches-in improve coordination and suppleness of the horse and the response to the aids.
- The exercise can also be performed at liberty.