How to work your horse long and low correctly

  • Here’s some great advice on how to ride your horse in a long and low outline from grand prix dressage rider and trainer Kate Cowell

    What is long and low?

    Fundamentally it is stretching your horse over his top line in walk, trot or canter.

    When done correctly your horse should feel like a rainbow from his tail to his ears. His hocks push and engage underneath his body, bringing his back up and stretching forward and down in his neck into a soft, elastic contact. It should be a voluntary offer from the horse whereas ‘round and deep’ is where the rider actually dictates where they place the horse’s neck.

    Why practise it?

    This is a great way to make your horse relax and breathe! It can really develop their way of going if practised correctly. It is also fantastic for warming up your horse’s top line muscles before you close him up and work towards more collection. Mid-session it can aid the horse’s relaxation mentally and physically, and at the end of the session to cool down, preventing lactic acid build up and post training stiffness. Ultimately as a rider you should be able to ride your horse in different outlines to keep him adjustable, athletic and comfortable.

    Does it suit every type of horse?

    Yes, every horse should be allowed to stretch in their work towards the contact. It’s particularly useful for horses that hold themselves tight. Every horse is different so in a horse that is built downhill, the stretch may need to be more controlled. If the horse is super fresh it may be suitable to wait until you are into your training session before using it.

    How do I know if I’ve cracked it?

    It can take some practise to achieve initially as most horses will lose their balance, stiffen in their neck and back and speed up. You’ve achieved it when the horse will seek your soft elastic contact down and forward without losing his rhythm, balance or straightness on turns, circles and straight lines. Your horse’s steps should become more elastic, looser and more elevated with a freer shoulder. You can then develop this into your collected work.

    Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these dressage competitions available to enter where you can show off what you’ve learnt…

    British Dressage

    Date: 12 December
    Venue: Alnwick Ford Equestrian, Morpeth
    Details: “This competition features classes from prelim to prix st georges and inter I, with a range of qualifiers.”
    Enter now

    Evening unaffiliated dressage

    Date: 13 December
    Venue: Grove Farm Equestrian, near Steventon
    Details: “This unaffiliated competition features classes ranging between into and elementary.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated evening dressage

    Date: 14 December
    Venue: Hill House Equestrian, Market Rasen
    Details: “This competition allows you to pick from a range of tests between intro and elementary.”
    Enter now

    Quest dressage

    Date: 15 December
    Venue: Moulton College Equestrian Centre, Northampton
    Details: “This Team and My Quest competition has classes from into to novice.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated dressage

    Date: 15 December
    Venue: Tumpy Green Equestrian Centre, Cam
    Details: “Classes from intro to elementary.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated dressage

    Date: 16 December
    Venue: Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester
    Details: “This competition includes classes from intro up to advanced medium.”
    Enter now

    Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings

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