Toe Flicking

April 14, 2014 by Summer

Dressage horses are truly beautiful. When we watch these horses move with so much impulsion, balance and cadence it is easy to misinterpret some things we see. One of these instances is toe flicking. This is when at the completion of the stride, the horse flicks his front toes up towards the sky. In some horses, you can almost see the sole of their foot. The appearance of “toe flicking” can be used as a diagnostic tool for the rider or judge. This is most often seen in the medium or extended trot but more and more commonly in the collected trot. If you find your horse is flicking its toes, you can be almost positive that you have lost its shoulders and that the horse is on the forehand. The momentum has dropped down from the topline and into the horse’s elbows and the horse no longer has that wonderful, ground covering, “front crawl” feeling.

There are many exercises to help fix this occurrence but a very simple exercise is to work the extended trot on the long wall. Begin the long wall in shoulder-in, as you begin to increase the impulsion and ask for more ground cover, allow the horse to straighten. As soon as you feel you are losing the shoulders, push the horse back into the shoulder-in position. As you repeat this exercise, you will be able to go longer and longer in straightness with the shoulders up.

*For another exercise to keep your horse’s shoulders up, please see my article How to Achieve a Soft Back.