There are certainly other phrases of three words that I don’t care for, but “make him round” makes my top ten list.
It’s a popular instruction to a rider whose horse has his head above the vertical — horrors! — and who seems stiff or hollow in the back.
Let me preface by saying that I have nothing against helping a horse to relax over his topline and stretch into the contact. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the meaning of “make him round,” which is the dressage trainer’s answer to the hunter-jumper trainer’s equally misguided “put your horse in a frame.”
The command to “make him round” ignores both the why and the how — why is the horse not round? And, if you try to make him round, how do you do it? Beyond that, there is an additional why — why would you want the horse to be round? And beyond that, how round is round?
Let’s look first at why the horse isn’t round. There’s a reason. There may be many reasons.
Has anyone checked saddle fit? Recently?