Ask H&H: head carriage and the de Gogue training aid

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  • Q: I am interested in using some sort of training aid, with my instructor’s help, to develop my five-year-old’s head carriage while working on the flat.

    I have been told a de Gogue might help?
    SMD, Oxon

    The de Gogue training aid aims to address three points of equine resistance — the poll, the mouth and the base of the neck.

    Invented by Frenchman Rene de Gogue, it features straps running from the girth to the headpiece of the bridle, to the bit, and back to the girth again.

    In his book, Saddlery, The Complete Guide, Elwyn Hartley Edwards describes the de Gogue as a system of training for the accomplished horseman to raise the base of the horse’s neck, free the shoulders, produce greater engagement and flexion of the hock, and encourage muscled development of a rounded top-line.

    Who uses it?

    Show jumper David McPherson has advocated careful use of the de Gogue, saying it can help produce a good shape when the horse is working on the flat, with the back rounded and the hocks engaged — a similar shape to the one the horse should produce over a fence.

    Stephen Biddlecombe, of de Gogue stockist worldwidetack.com, explained that by addressing the main points of resistance, it can help a horse overcome stiffness in these areas and carry its head comfortably.

    “It can be used for both lungeing and for ridden work, but should be gradually introduced by an experienced rider, making sure the horse is correctly warmed up first,” he said.

    The British Horse Society’s Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies at Events states that training aids such as this must only be used for the warm-up stage of competitions, but do check your sport’s rulebook.


    www.worldwidetack.com stocks a leather de Gogue in brown and black, £83.39.

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (29 January, ’09)

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