International Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Joanna Fisher shares her thoughts on how to deal with this common problem. She says…
“Firstly, is the crookedness in the neck ?
If so, a good thing to consider is have you checked your horses teeth?
Sharp teeth on one side can cause head tilting or even a crooked neck with the horse trying to avoid the pressure in the mouth. If in doubt ask your vet to check your horses teeth, a good guide is having them rasped or floated every 6 months.
Is the crookedness in the body?
This can be caused by a badly fitting saddle, if in doubt check for different wear patches on your saddle cloth or even bald patches on your horses back. If you see this call your saddle fitter, a reflocking should solve the problem.
Is the crookedness in the hind quarters?
Before moving onto schooling methods be sure your crookedness is not coming from stiffness or even lameness. Popping the horse on the lunge can confirm soundness and again if you are not sure, call the vet!
With all these things aside, of course it can come from simple schooling errors.
My first suggestion would be to start basic transitions on the track or even three quarter line, walk trot walk trot, make sure you’re level in your seat and giving level aids.
Once you have established forward and backwards transitions, I would bring the horse onto a circle and continue with the transitions, before changing the rein and repeating the exercise. Once supple enough I would then start a figure of eight to see if the horse is bending around the inside leg whilst keeping a steady consistent contact with the outside rein. I would then move back on to the three quarter line and if all the transitions were correct your horse should now be straight!
The majority of the work is in walk/trot. I would start the canter work after I know my horse is working well on a straight line.
Joanna has written a collection of children’s books based on her horses over the years.
It has been published by award winning Candy Jar books and currently available in Waterstones and being read in schools. Click here to link to her website: www.stablegossip.com. She also has a dressage website which can be found at http://www.joannafisherdressage.com/
For more advice from Joanna, why not visit her other blog posts here