Page:Notes on equitation and horse training.djvu/89

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XXVIII.

Part played by the neck in equitation.—When a horse is left to himself and is free to apply his own natural methods, he makes uses of his head and neck as a balancer to keep his forces in equilibrium or to modify their action. If he wishes to go forward, he pushes out his head and extends his neck in order to shift the center of gravity in the direction of the desired movement. If, on the contrary, he wishes to go back, he pulls in his head and shortens his neck, thus starting the mass in the movement to the rear. In lateral movements, oblique or circular, it is the same; the shifting of the head or neck to the right or left prepares, favors, and controls the animal's action.

At a walk, the head and neck are in constant motion in order to take weight off the legs that are moving to the front and place weight on those that rest on the ground.

At a gallop, the balancer is alternately raised and lowered according as the horse is supported on the hind quarters or on the forehand and is extended or brought in according as the gait is rapid or slow.

This shifting of the head and neck that we observe in the horse at liberty should be noted when the horse is ridden. The rider should be completely master of the neck, and when he gives his horse the signal for a movement should be able at the same time to set the neck in the position most favorable to the execution of the movement. The neck is therefore a steering gear as well as a balancer, and suppling exercises that involve this region necessarily take up a large portion of the time devoted to training. But it is to be noted that these