These keys allow the horse to develop symmetrically in body and limbs.
And all keys are related because one key will open the door the next.
The result of all six keys is a balanced and symmetrical horse:
- The horse can bend to both sides,
- has equal shoulder freedom,
- pushes and carries equally with the hind legs,
- and can carry more weight with both hind legs, to free the fragile front legs.
Well, time to reveal what each key is about:
|Key 1: Lateral bend
The first step of straightness training is the lateral bend of the horse. With lateral bend, we mean the equal lateral bend of the body. By stretching short muscles and contracting long, weak muscles, the horse can bend laterally to both sides..
|Key 2: Forward-down
When the horse releases its back as a result of the lateral stretching of key 1, the horse can lower its neck forward-down. By stretching the outside of the body, the back muscle on that side lengthens. A long back muscle cannot keep the head of the horse up, causing the horse to lower its head into a forward-down position...
|Key 3: Stepping under
Correct lateral bending engages the inside hip, causing the inside hind leg to step towards the point of weight. The forward-down movement of the horse makes the hind leg swing forward. Correct stepping under is a requirement to be able to work on the next keys (bending the hind legs)...
|Key 4: Bending of the inside hind leg
When the horse can perform proper lateral bending, it is capable of stepping under the point of weight with its inside hind leg. Then, this hind leg can start to assume some of the weight from the front legs, making it bend more. This is done through shoulder-in..
|Key 5: Bending of the outside hind leg
The next key is to bend the hind leg as an outside hind leg. This is done through haunches-in. The outside hind leg steps under the point of weight, which causes it to bend. The haunches-in reduces the pushing of the outside hind leg and stimulates it to carry weight. This is also done through the renvers and half pass...
|Key 6: Bending of both hind legs
When the horse has learned to bend its body and both hind legs individually, we can ask the horse to bend both hind legs simultaneously. We use the exercises pirouette and piaffe. A straight horse now allows itself to be collected and lifted in the front..
Now we have a good overview of all 6 keys, let's start to focus on:
The first 3 keys
The first three keys are also called the LFS:
- Lateral bend
- Stepping under
Click on the video for an explanation about the LFS:
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