Sunday, April 1, 2012

Head position and center of gravity

More Hilary Clayton tidbits:

The horse's center of gravity is (fortuitously) about where the rider sits. Much is made of the position of the head and neck in dressage, but research has shown that it doesn't have much effect on the center of gravity. The head weighs about 50 lbs, the neck about 70 lbs. As the horse's head/neck move forward/backward ten inches, the center of gravity moves forward/back one inch.

So, does this mean a high-headed horse is not much more likely to be balanced/engaged/collected?

We do seem to focus an awful lot on the head...


  1. My last dressage lesson on my Friesian was all about this. I realized I was over riding him for every stride and constricting his natural good movement. When I let go of some control, stopped half-halting and spurring every stride, and just enjoyed the forward movement ... allowing for some mistakes ... we had a better overstep and the horse found his own balance instead of requiring me to do it for him.

    A lot of dressage riders are kind of control freaks with their horses. Not to sound bad or judging, but it is true, if you really think about it. I would never require an animal to live in a stall 24/7 because it has to show and be shiny. We crank their heads in because we still sometimes fall for "what the head is doing, the body must follow." NO!! If the body is used correctly, the head is a natural follower ...

  2. Interesting. I have been marked down in dressage tests on a trot stretch down because my horse was "on his forehand." His hind end was engaged and he was light in my hand in a very elastic stretch downward with plenty of balance.

    Riding the head is not the way to get a correctly moving horse--but tell the advocates of rolkur that....*sigh*

    1. Amen Jean. I'm trying to imagine how hard it is to breathe like that ... chin to chest. Wonder how many of them wind up with a bad case of cervical arthritis later in life. Just a thought.

  3. Have you seen the device being sold by Chick's that fastens to the bridle crownpiece and indicates when the face is on the vertical? PFFT!

  4. I don't think this is anything new. Baucher stated this in his book The new book of horsemanship back in the 1800's.

  5. Hey, it was new to me, and I guess now science has proven it :-)


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