We talked about positioning the rider last week so now...... what about the horse? I love how the great trainer Bob Avila said it: "if you control the rib cage everything else will follow". Oh, how true but let's talk about this a minute because the devil can be in the details of that seemingly simple statement!
A horse is basically built as a trapazoid so whichever way the shoulder goes, the hip will go to the opposite side and vice versa. And, if a horse is yielding in his rib cage it's impossible for him to drop his shoulder. This simple truth is often overlooked by horse people.
Like all good trainers, I keep my horses supple and I do all kinds of exercises to achieve that suppleness but in the end, a horse must yield his rib cage to the rider's leg! This allows the rider to ride the whole body of the horse. While it's absolutely important to work on individual body parts such as a soft poll, a lifted back and shoulder, a rounded body etc.; the ultimate goal is to have the horse balanced throughout his body - i.e. collected - and the rib cage is the key.
Focus on your horse's rib cage during your next ride to see what a difference that control can make. To start, the horse should never lean or pull on a rein or lean on a rider in any way. If a horse is even slightly leaning then he's not balanced nor can he be collected. Hope this short thought helps during your next ride! Talk to you next week, JD.