Lots of people have asked me what a dressage horse should look like when he’s on the bit. What follows are a list of things you’ll be able to see in order to determine if a horse is on the bit or if he’s just being “hand ridden” so that his neck is arched and his face is on the vertical.
1. His entire silhouette from back to front looks round.
2. His hind legs step actively underneath his body.
3. His back is up and swings.
4. His neck is long and low enough to be in line with the “power train” of his hindquarters.
5. The poll is the highest point.
6. The horse’s nose is about 5 degrees in front of the vertical so he has the look of going toward the bit.
7. From the saddle, the horse’s neck is widest at the base (just in front of the withers) and becomes more narrow as you get closer to his ears.
8. From the side, the dressage horse’s neck looks longish and relatively low. It is never short and restricted. Nor is it up in the air.