By CHRISTINE RIVLIN – The first way would be through correct riding. Making sure the horse has a correct connection through the bridle and is using the muscles through the top line correctly. One would want to see the “big” muscle on the top of the horses neck engaged from just in front of the withers up to just behind the poll. This muscle should make a solid smooth line.
Second, I would suggest lungeing in tack or surcingle with appropriate length side reins to the horse’s level of training. For a younger, more green horse, they should be adjusted so the horses nose is at or slightly in front of vertical. For a more advanced horse, the side reins with no elastic could be used and set so the horses nose is just at the vertical. Again, the horse’s “topline” neck muscle should be elastically engaged vs. put into a forced frame through use of the side reins.
Lastly, use of other type of auxiliary reins, such as sliding side reins. The sliding side reins can connect between the horse’s front legs and then run up through the bit and back to the saddle and attach at the girth billets at varying heights. Again, they should be set in a way that the horse is allowed to stretch into the contact, yet not come up against it, allowing the nose to be at or slightly in front of vertical. The benefit of these reins is encouraging the horse to stay “round” in the back while not encouraging the horse to come up in the neck and brace against the side reins. These reins can be especially helpful for the some of the more challenging breeds to get to stretch into the contact, such as an Arabian or possibly a Friesian horse.
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