Horse running flat is a common sports horse problem, and it can lead to both physical and mental issues for the horse and rider. It’s important to understand what this problem is, why it happens, and how to address it. This article will discuss what it means when a horse runs flat, the causes behind it, and how to prevent or fix it.
What Is Horse Running Flat?
Horse running flat is a term used to describe when a horse’s body appears to be stiff and unbalanced while moving. This can make the horse appear to be running or moving in a “flat” manner, without any lift or power in the stride. This problem can occur in any saddle discipline, including show jumping, dressage, eventing, and even trail riding.
Causes of Horse Running Flat
There are many potential causes for a horse running flat. Some of these causes include:
- Poor conditioning: Horses that have not been adequately conditioned for the activity they are doing will often run flat because they don’t have the strength and endurance to move correctly.
- Incorrect tack: Incorrectly fitted tack can cause a horse to run flat. Poorly fitting saddles or bridles can inhibit the horse’s movement and cause them to run flat.
- Rider errors: Rider errors, such as too much or too little contact, incorrect aids, or an imbalance in the rider’s seat, can all contribute to a horse running flat.
- Incorrect training: Incorrect training can lead to the horse not understanding what is being asked of them, and they may try to compensate by running flat.
Signs of Horse Running Flat
Horse running flat can be difficult to spot, but there are some signs to look out for. These include:
- No lift in the stride: The horse may appear to be “running on the spot” with no lift or power in the stride.
- Stiff or unbalanced movement: The horse may appear to be stiff in the back, neck, or hindquarters, and may be unbalanced in their movement.
- Shortened stride: The horse may take shorter strides than normal, or have difficulty lengthening their stride.
- Reluctance to move forward: The horse may be reluctant to move forward, or may stop and start frequently.
How to Prevent Horse Running Flat
The best way to prevent a horse running flat is to ensure that the horse is well-conditioned and fit for the activity they are doing. Adequate warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise can also help to prevent the horse from running flat.
How to Fix Horse Running Flat
If the horse is already running flat, the first step is to identify and address the underlying cause of the problem. This may include improving the horse’s fitness, correcting any tack or rider errors, and ensuring the horse is correctly trained.
Once the underlying cause has been identified, the next step is to establish a program of exercises to help the horse improve their balance and strength. These exercises should focus on encouraging the horse to use their hindquarters and engage their core muscles.
Common Exercises for Horse Running Flat
There are several exercises that can help to improve the horse’s balance and strength and encourage them to move in a more balanced and powerful way. Some of these exercises include:
- Lateral work: Lateral exercises such as shoulder-in, leg-yield, and half-pass can help to encourage the horse to engage their core and hindquarters and move in a more balanced way.
- Circles: Working on circles of varying sizes and speeds can help to encourage the horse to use their body more effectively and build strength.
- Transitions: Transitions between gaits (e.g. walk to trot, trot to canter) can help the horse to engage their core and hindquarters and move in a more powerful way.
- Jumps: Jumps can help to encourage the horse to use their body more effectively, and can be used to build strength and balance.
Horse running flat is a common problem that can lead to both physical and mental issues for the horse and rider. It’s important to understand what this problem is, why it happens, and how to address it. By correctly identifying the cause of the problem, and establishing a program of exercises to improve the horse’s strength and balance, it is possible to prevent or fix the issue.
- Hall, A. (2020). What Does It Mean When a Horse Runs Flat? Retrieved from https://www.thehorse.com/126418/what-does-it-mean-when-a-horse-runs-flat/
- O’Connor, C. (2021). How to Fix Horse Running Flat. Retrieved from https://www.equisearch.com/horse-care/how-to-fix-horse-running-flat/
- Ralston, E. (2020). How to Prevent Horse Running Flat. Retrieved from https://www.equisearch.com/horse-care/how-to-prevent-horse-running-flat/