Stretching your Horse

Horse-Riding-Tips 5.....Perhaps one of the most misunderstood dressage movements: stretching the horse. Often refered to as "long and low", "deep and round" forward and downward", "stretchy circle" etc.


The US Dressage Federation Manual describes 'Stretching The Frame' as the stretching forward and down of the horse seeking contact, maintaining its balance and a steady rythm (neither getting quicker or slower).

Why stretch the horse?


"When stretched forward and downward, the upper neck line-via the nuchal ligament-raises the back into the desired position, which allows the longissimus back muscle to work in relaxation and remain free and actively engaged." Excerpt from Tug of War: Classical Versus "Modern" Dressage, Dr. Gerd Heuschmann

If we refer to our own glossary of dressage terms:

Carriage in which the horse lowers and stretches out its head and neck, reaching forward and downward into contact on a longer rein.

How do we execute this movemnt?....

"The rider should gradually give and retake the reins: the horse should stretch forward and down with a light contac, while maintaining BALANCE, rythm and quality of gait." USDF

What is the purpose of this movement?

"To demonstrate that the horse has accepted a comfortable and steady contact with the bit, has confidence in the rider's hands, follows the bit when allowed to do so and that it willingly accepts the gathering of the reins at the end of the movemnt." USDF


Beginning the Stretch

Horse-Riding-Tips 5

"Stretching the Frame" does NOT mean that :

  • the horse lacks BALANCE and falls on the forhand.
  • Lowers the neck but is OVERROUND and not stretched to the bit.
  • Gets quicker or sluggish
  • Jerks the reins out of the riders hand.

  • beststretch2


    And yet another horse-riding-tip on this subject: The complexus musculature of the neck should show and the underside of the neck should be flax not just go down by gravity or pull.

    Incorrect Stretches

    forehand1 forhand2 gorehand3

    1. no stretch just low, sluggish and on the forehand.

    2. Too deep, ears too low, on the forehand.

    3. topline not stretched, underside of neck braced, not balanced.

    Go Home From Horse-Riding-Tips 5

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