(aka, on the importance of being straight!)
In the parlance of classical French equitation, a horse is “straight” when the line of its spine exactly mirrors its line of travel. So, a horse bending true to an arc is going “straight”! If following a straight line, a horse is “straight” if its right-side feet stay to the right of the line and its left to the left.
Pyrrhus had serious problems being straight. He would set his spine like a wet noodle, using this bit evasion to avoid doing what he seriously disliked doing, which was fording a stream. While the others splashed through, Pyrrhus had to be ridden over the closest bridge.
One day, the guide forgot about Pyrrhus: All the other horses gallopped across while Pyrrhus did his rubber spine thing.
After ten minutes of dithering on the wrong side of the stream, he forgot and was straight for a moment!
Eureka! The importance of being straight! I applied heels and crop with vigor and Pyrrhus shot forward! But since his straight line of travel didn’t aim him straight towards the horses on the other side of the stream, we ended up in the deep hole on the side!
Appalled Pyrrhus needed no incentive to swim to the other bank and climb out!
From then on, if I rode him on trail rides, Pyrrhus would jump off any bank into water, gallop or walk through as asked, and jump out.
Pyrrhus was probably a Friesian despite being a deep red bay. He had the most extra-ordinarily rhythmic trot, one which was easily cadenced. If not in the small covered arena (five horse lengths by six), I rode him in the Bois de Boulogne. He preferred high-school work; the rubber spine manifested itself only out on the trail.
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How I learned to ride and some of my experiences with horses.