"My horse just WON'T go Long and Low!"Frustrated Horse Owner
The goal of long and low is to have your horse moving in a relaxed manner with his head lowered and connected over his back. Later adding impulsion from the hind end and collection from the front makes beautiful movement.
There are a great many trainers who all ride wonderfully...who also explain long and low in completely different ways. HOW to do long and low is also explained in even more ways.
You've probably used many different strategies to get correct long and low form. But what if your horse just won't or can't seem to do it?
Signs of Long and Low Difficulties
If your horse has difficulty with long and low work (or has difficulty with either collection or impulsion), you may be seeing some of these signs:
- Reluctant to stretch head or neck low
- Hollows back (or shows other signs of back pain)
- Trails hind end out behind
- Even if your horse "looks" correct, the movement feels forced or stiff
Assuming your riding and training are good, the most common causes of long and low difficulty are:
- Chiropractic issues
- Saddle fit
- Nutritional imbalances
Top Three Causes of Long and Low Trouble
1) Chiropractic causes of long and low difficulties
Because long and low incorporates your entire horse's topline, there are many areas (13 altogether) that could be the cause of the problem. You can find out yourself if there is a chiropractic cause to your horse's problem by doing Body Checkups.
The 13 Body Checkups include: atlas, occiput, TMJ, neck, C7, withers, ribs, sternum, thoracic, lumbar, intertransverse, sacrum, and sacroiliac.
These are all available with full color photos and easy step-by-step directions in my book, Where Does My Horse Hurt? Please click on the link for more information about what is included in the book.
That being said, the three most powerful Body Checkups (i.e. the ones most often causing long and low difficulty) are: Atlas Checkup, Rib Checkup, and Sacrum Checkup. The videos of these three Body Checkups are available on the how-to videos page. Simply do each Body Checkup on your horse.
If your Body Checkup results are "probably subluxations" for any one of these three Checkups, call your certified chiropractor for assistance.
If your Body Checkup results are "normal" for all Checkups, continue on to the #2 and #3 causes of long and low difficulties. Remember that there are ten more Body Checkup areas that can be causing your horse's problem.
2) Saddle Fit can cause long and low difficulties
Saddle fit is extremely important. Having poor saddle fit is like being asked to run while wearing bowling shoes. It's just not right. It's uncomfortable, slippery, and you won't run normally---if you run at all.
While finding the correct fitting saddle for your horse can be time consuming, the effort is definitely worth it. Keep in mind that when your horse is asked to lower his head, his back muscles should raise. This makes correct saddle fit even more important for long and low work. Please see Does my horse's saddle fit? for more information.
3) Nutrition imbalances can cause long and low difficulties
It may seem strange to have nutrition be a cause of long and low difficulties. However, nutrition plays a key role in muscle, tendon, and ligament health. For example, in Selenium deficient areas of the United States, horses with low muscle levels (not blood levels) of Selenium have tight muscles with a decreased ability to stretch and extend. Tight muscles horses are simply not comfortable doing long and low type of work for any length of time. Please see nutrition in horses for more information.
I hope this information has helped you toward solving any long and low problems you may have. Good luck!