The effect of different head carriages on horses’ airways *H&H Plus*

What effect does dressage head and neck position have on a horse’s airway? Peter Green MRCVS finds out, in his latest research round-up

At the higher levels of dressage, the horse is asked to perform strenuously while his airway is not straight; it is kinked at the throat, where the head and neck meet.

There has been much debate about whether the competition outline and head carriage expected in dressage is natural or unnatural and whether the airway is compromised. In 2010, the FEI held a round table conference at which hyperflexion was deemed unacceptable – hyperflexion being the forcing of the horse’s head into a position beyond the vertical, with the chin pulled into the chest.