Do you go long and low? Here are some good reasons why utilizing the so-called “long and low” principle as a training tool is a good idea. The long and low exercise is a great way to begin and end a horse’s workout, regardless if it’s in a ring or out on the track or trails. The famous Manolo Mendez, Professor of Classical Dressage once said: “The rider and his horse must work together, in harmony, to develop balance, rhythm, co-ordination and skill.”
Allowing the horse to go long and low is not just for stretching the neck and back, it also contributes greatly to building strength and coordination necessary to perform well throughout all gaits; furthermore, it teaches the horse to relax, make better use of the legs, lenghten the strides and engage the hind quarters. As the horse relaxes it takes even breaths and finds a rhythm, which puts it into a better frame of mind when put to work, which promotes willingness and trust. Of course we must always work within the horse’s natural limitations. Once you and your horse have the long and low down pat you can shift your focus on “compress and stretch” exercises, which build the path to the next level: transitions.
Note that long and low is not the same as “deep and round”, which relies on bringing the horse behind the vertical with a lowered head and a shortened neck.