bending exercises

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bending exercises

This is a discussion on bending exercises within the Horse Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Equine bending exercise
  • Horse exercise bending and stretching back

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  • 1 Post By Beling

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    08-06-2012, 06:50 PM
Green Broke
bending exercises

Ok so the new mare I'm leasing is quite tricky haha. I've ridden her now about 8 times and have noticed turninh to the right she is incredibly bendy almost too much to where she rubber necks if you aren't paying attention to her. Now to the left is a whole nother story she will not bend she flexs somewhat but again stiffer to that side in fact she turns her head, or atleast tries to, to the outside of the circle. I use my left leg to keep her shoulder up and just hold tge left rein with some tension and give her her head the second she gives even a little bend but I was wondering if anyone has any other good exercises other then circles. She is green she is 6 yrs old and had 90 days back as a 4 yr old I believe but then the lady let her daughter just run her up and down the pasture till the current lady bought her and has used her as a trail horse.
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    08-06-2012, 07:00 PM
Green Broke
Start from the ground. Stand at her shoulder and ask her to pull her nose around to you and hold it there. She will probably want to turn her whole body, but just keep one hand on her nose/halter and the other on her wither until she stops and allows it.
Another exercise is getting her to touch her tail with her nose (you hold the end of her tail near her midsection or as far as it will go and have her stretch her nose the rest of the way), which again, they will want to spin at first but try to stick with her until she stops, does it, then quickly release and each time after make her hold it longer.
Then from the saddle, before you ride off have her bend her nose to your toe and hold it at a stand still until she is doing it softly and reflexively. Make sure you are not giving her any cues with your body. Legs and heels should be down, back should be relatively straight and you should only be using your hand, arm and upper body. If you start to give pressure with your legs and seat she will think you are asking her to move her whole frame.
A tip is to pull the rein (or rope if you are using a halter) to your knee. This way you are giving no upward pressure. When she relaxes, then release her. That is the reward.
    08-06-2012, 07:01 PM
Green Broke
Oh, and if you are using a bit for these exercises, or any bending exercises, make sure it is a snaffle. Shanked bits are not meant for direct reining and have often give horses, especially green ones, bad/mixed signals.
    08-06-2012, 07:08 PM
Green Broke
Im aware of the shanked bits I only use a snaffle on her and will be finding my rope halter tonight. I do the first and last exetcise you suggested and she understands it standing still it's ehen we are moving that she doesn't connect them. She will flex right side flawlessly left side is her bad side but only when asked to move.
    08-07-2012, 04:40 PM
Just a note to think about: although she's "better" to the right, it's actually often the RIGHT side which is stiff and does not want to stretch. Sometimes massage will help. You want her to s-t-r-e-t-c-h that part of her body. Be paitent, it won't happen all at once.
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    08-07-2012, 04:45 PM
Green Broke
Yeah I mean turning to the right she is good, which means the left side of her neck is the 'stretchy' side but the right side is tight. I am thinking it also might be a balancing thing that she picked up, a bad one but as she is green and still sometimes has to find her feet it might have something to do with it.
    08-09-2012, 03:59 PM
I like leg-yielding. You can do it mildly at first. With my own very crooked pony, I first taught her to side-step away from my left leg (was stiff and undeveloped on her right side due to a long lameness). So the oblique angles were pretty easy. Gradually made the angle sharper. It really helps balance, and it's something you can do while walking out on the road or trails.
    08-09-2012, 04:27 PM
I would use many different exercises. It's very tempting to just stretch your horse totally on the stiff side when they are very one-sided. My 6yo Qh is, like yours, stiff to bend left. I have been doing several things to combat this. Sometimes I lunge for 10-15 minutes, about ten circles left, then one circle right, ending on the "good side" and praising bc it's easier for him. Sometimes I ride on the left rein and trot a tight circle when he doesn't follow the track fully to the corner, so he WILL track it correctly. Sometimes I flex from the ground. If you've ever taken dance lessons, you'll know about stretching evenly on both sides. I'm surprised to hear stories like this week, from one of our gold medal Olympians, who discovered just RECENTLY how important running evenly on both legs is to a successful race. IMO bending nose to tail will irritate your horse. I'm not a fan of continuously flexing your horse, nose to girth, but it has it's place. I do like the idea of 2/3 work on the stiff side, 1/3 work on the stretchy side, to develop strength without causing pain. Surprisingly, a lot of straight work, like a lengthened walk or posting trot on a straight trail will do much more than the other exercises.

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