Gustav’s gift: the S-bend explained

Gustav Steinbrecht and I share a birthday – albeit almost 2 centuries apart. So I feel a connection with him as an author of classical riding texts and as an historical fellow leo/virgo cusp.

I find it fascinating and reassuring that he explains asymmetry in a horse’s body in a way that is still relevant today, even with all of our more advanced understanding of biomechanics and biology. For example, these are his words from The Gymnasium of the Horse:

“…most horses are naturally crooked to a certain extent in that they tend to assume a false bend to the right. This false bend is produced in that their right hind leg does not step straight underneath the load but to the right of it so that the left shoulder tends to fall away toward the left with the result that the horse leans on the left rein and refuses to accept the right rein.”

His words describe exactly the static posture that I feel in many horses, which looks a bit like this:

Fortunately, the exercises described by the classical masters are still available to us today which help to straighten our horses in training and there are body workers. I find that myofascial release therapy is particularly effective to undo the tension that hold bodies into postures like this.