Bending Exercises? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 04-17-2011, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Question Bending Exercises?

Just wondering what good bending exercises there are?
Bella and i are starting from the ground up since she wasn't properly started by her previous owners so though she is incredibly calm she is stubborn as heck & does not bend at the neck very well at all.
She will yield her hind quarters but that only helps to a certain point when turning. Sometimes i literally have to grab one rein with both hands and use all my strength to get her to turn her head around!
I started riding her in a d-ring, then switched to a full-cheek snaffle & now she is in a side-pull snaffle combo.

I would eventually like to start getting her taking barrels, poles, etc but i
need her to be able to bend willingly at a walk first let alone a gallop and forget neck reining for now!
She's also not a very sensitive (tough skin). Even with spurs you really have to dig in before she'll even flick an ear back and think of moving
She never gets mad though, which is handy when trying to get her to do stuff she doesnt want to!
What exercises do you guys use on stubborn horses; first on the ground & then in the saddle?
ANY advice would be great!

"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly."
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post #2 of 6 Old 04-17-2011, 07:11 PM
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I'll have a think, and post a proper reply in the morning I had a Highland pony who was just the same! You could throw your entire weight at him and he wouldn't even notice!
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post #3 of 6 Old 04-17-2011, 09:24 PM
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I do changes through the circle with all my horses for a warm-up. It softens the jaw and is super good for bending. If your horse doesn't bend then you need to take past the resistant point. So shorten your inside rein slightly and pull back enough so the horse bends and then give right away. You don't want to hold otherwise it will make the horse hard in the jaw and more likely not to bend for you. Make sure you put on your thigh and tap with the whip or a slight kick with your leg when you take your rein. So just remember to pull past the resistance and do changes through the circle for awhile and your horse will be bending in no time!!! Good luck and if you have any questions feel free to message me! :)

"The hand should be a filter, not a plug or an open faucet."
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post #4 of 6 Old 04-17-2011, 11:27 PM
Green Broke
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My advice is just to soften her up to bending. What I mean is to put constant sideways pressure on her mouth and just hold it. I recommend setting your hand against something (you can do this on her or from the ground). For awhile it's going to be both of you pulling against each other. Don't pull hard, but just constant and don't pull harder. Eventually, (even though it might seem like she won't) you'll feel her soften and give just a very slight bit, maybe almost not even enough to notice (another good reason to have your hand up against something). Then immediately drop that rein and repeat.

Eventually you'll want her to get so soft you can bend her head all the way without ever really pulling.

I hope that was kind of what you were looking for. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have. :)
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post #5 of 6 Old 04-18-2011, 12:58 AM
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They support each other. I think you got a lot of good advice, but knowing you, you probably already knew most of that stuff.
One thing is that bending side to side is connected to bending longitudinally. So, on top of the other bending stuff you are working on, work on getting this hrose to reach way down forward with her neck, then pick up way up, then back up and really lift her shoulders and compress the body, then push her forward, neck out , neck down. LIke a spring, you lengthen and shorten it.

And, as others stated, maybe have someone watch you work with her and see if you really are building in more softness in her by asking for the bending , not giving up til you get it but giving the reward just as soon as you get a good try. Might be hard for you to see these things yourself.

I don't have a ton of experience riding a heavy horse like that, but I think it boils down to you not letting her dullness wear down your EXPECTATIONS from her. I think the duller they are, the duller that we can become because in little ways we give up and settle for less. I know that I do. So, sharpen your expectations for what she can do (within reason for her age/training level) and make yourself stay up there and toe the line with this, and make her meet your there!
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post #6 of 6 Old 04-18-2011, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Location: Alberta, Canada
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Yes, great advice guys!
We've been trying a little just on the ground but even that is hard work so it's gonna take time & patience. I dont mind, mostly because of her nature & i knew when buying one that Fjords are notoriously very stubborn lol.
I would like to get her nice & soft though, so one day soon i can have my niece learn off of her. SHe's got the temperment for it, only my niece's little arms definitely dont have the strength to match Bella's lol.

"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly."
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