Why is Roundness Important?

Before I jump into this article, where I explain why it’s important that your horse is round, I have an important reminder for you:

My 30 Days to Round Challenge is back, and open for enrollment! Join thousands of riders around the world who have seen amazing results from this program. These are riders just like you! 30 days from now, you could be showing off your transformation too! Learn More About the Challenge*

*Sorry! You’ve missed this course enrollment. Don’t worry thought! Click the link and put your name on the list to be notified the next time the course opens again. We would love to have you.

Now, back to the article:

Are you someone who struggles to get your horse round? Is your horse stiff and tense? Does your trainer tell you that your horse needs to get rounder? Why is roundness important?

In this article I take you through:

a) What is roundness,

b) Why your horse should be round, and,

c) How you can tell if your horse is round or not

 

a) What is Roundness? Roundness in regards to frame (rather than circle shape!) is defined by USDF as “the convexity of the profile of the horse’s topline, which is accompanied by the concavity of the underline of the neck.” Building on that, roundness is about creating a flow of energy between the horse and the rider. When your horse is round, the energy flows from the rider’s leg, to the horse’s hind leg, and arches up like a bow through their back and into the rider’s hands. Physical roundness creates a mental state in which your horse is willing and focused on the rider’s aids.

b) Why your horse should be round: To put it in very simple terms, the most basic reasons we want our horses to be round is because it makes them more rideable and safe. When your horse is above the bit they are:

  • Externalized, looking around, and not paying attention to the rider
  • Tense and stiff
  • Difficult to control, stop, turn, and go forward

The next benefit to consider is your horse’s topline structure and their overall health.

When your horse is inverted, they’re using their under-neck muscles, and their back is hollow with their vertebrae pushing closer together (not good!). This can cause them problems because if they develop like this, it is uncomfortable for them to carry us as riders. Our horses need to develop the muscles to lift up their back, use their core, and engage their hind end in order to safely and comfortably carry their riders.

In the process of getting your horse round, the first step is teaching your horse to move forward and for their neck to drop. The neck acts like a lever. It’s connected to the long back muscles and when they drop their neck, the back muscles come up, creating a better place for a rider to sit.

When the horse is round and working over the back, you’re in control of their body and their brain. It’s a thousand times easier and more comfortable to ride your horse when they are round!

And third, roundness also affects rider position. When the horse is above the bit, it is much more difficult to have an independent seat and ride with effective leg aids. You become preoccupied with your hands (which is what we’re trying to avoid). When your horse is above the bit, it’s harder for them, and for us!

c)

So how do you tell if your horse is round? Optically, when looking at your horse from the side, we’re looking for a few things.

  • Flexion at the poll
  • Contact with the mouth
  • Head on the vertical
  • Hocks aligned under the stifles and the back lifting

Things to look for when you’re mounted:

  • You want more space between your head and your horse’s head.
  • You want to see an arch come upwards in your horse’s neck.
  • If you look down, you want to see the base of the neck get a little fatter because they’re engaging their neck and back correctly.

I hope you find these pointers helpful. When your horse is round, they are more enjoyable to ride, and they are using their body correctly. If you want to learn the systematic step-by-step program I use to teach all of my horses to go round, and become supple and soft in your hands, join my 30 Days to Round Challenge.*

*Sorry! You’ve missed this course enrollment. Don’t worry thought! Click the link and put your name on the list to be notified the next time the course opens again. We would love to have you.

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