“Can you make him rounder?” This is something that is often heard from dressage coaches. The roundness referred to is the horses neck; indicating that the horse has accepted a contact with the bit and that the energy created in the hind end of the horse comes through the body and then is channeled to the front of the horse. So it’s all about a lot of roundness or parts of the horse being “rounded”.
This quest for ‘making him rounder’ can often result in something very undesirable; the rider pulls the horse’s head and neck into a rounder position and stifles any energy that may have been created coming from the horse’s engine which is the hind end. The horse will then get tight and stiff in the back, and the whole thing is a mess and not at all what is desired.
Roundness is something that is only required in dressage. Hunters, jumpers, race horses are never required to be “round”. In those disciplines the horse does not need so much collection. Collection is the term used for the horse taking more weight on his hind end, coming up in his shoulders, accepting contact with the bit, and rounding the neck. Here is a photo of one of the Cavalry Blacks and you can see his neck is not round. There is no need for this horse to be round or to be collected in a parade situation.
Here is a photo of a horse that is displaying all the correct qualities of roundness. His neck is round with the underside of the neck a nice U shape not a tight V shape. You can also see how he is bringing his hind legs under him and how his hind end is rounded. His head has not been pulled in and is at the vertical not pulled behind it. The rider’s contact is light and not pulling and the energy created is freely moving forward. This is “rounded” at it’s best in a Grand Prix dressage horse.”
This is my response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge. To see other responses click here:
Photo of Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu on her Grand Prix horse All In by Karie Alderman.