How to teach a horse to bend
   

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How to teach a horse to bend

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    03-08-2013, 09:53 PM
  #1
Weanling
How to teach a horse to bend

I was just wondering the best way to teach a horse to hold a bend through his body at walk, trot, canter.

I feel teaching this to my horse will help him hold himself better, -- help him learn where his back legs are and use his hind more effectively

Thanks!
     
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    03-08-2013, 10:10 PM
  #2
Trained
You won't get correct bend until you can ride the hind legs forward - it's a bit of a catch 22 situation. There is no 'miracle cure'.
     
    03-08-2013, 10:28 PM
  #3
Weanling
Can you explain this to me?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayty    
You won't get correct bend until you can ride the hind legs forward - it's a bit of a catch 22 situation. There is no 'miracle cure'.
     
    03-08-2013, 10:41 PM
  #4
Trained
Have a look at the German Training Scale. It's a Dressage thing yes, but it applies to most disciplines.

Rhythm and Relaxation are the first two steps on the scale. The horse should travel freely forward, maintaining it's rhythm and tempo.

Then you step up to Connection, Impulsion, Straightness and finally Collection.

To get correct bend, you cannot just pull on the right rein and expect the horse's body to bend right, and vice versa. Pull the right rein and chances are your horse's head will look to the right, but the wither (and rest of the body) will continue to the left.
The hind legs are the horse's engine. Trying to steer and bend without having the engine running is like expecting to get around a turn in a car without the accelerator on. Maybe if you're on a bit of a downhill slope you'll get a bit of speed and be able to drag the car around the bend, but it's not going to be as easy as if you've got your foot down, to push the car around the bend.

If you can establish forward, while riding your body along the line of the circle, you will be surprised at how easily the bend will come. Teaching some steps of leg yield on the circle will help to develop an inside leg-outside rein connection, which will then assist in developing the bend through the ribs. You can then move onto shoulder fore, which will develop even more flexibility through the body.
Bend is balance. That is why smaller circles are not introduced in a Dressage test until a couple of levels up, and ever later in canter. The tighter the turn, the more bend required and therefore the more balance and collection in order to maintain that bend without losing balance. Either through throwing a shoulder to the outside, dropping an inside shoulder, swinging haunches out etc.
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    03-09-2013, 12:51 AM
  #5
Weanling
A couple of concepts, one has to do with the theory of training and effects of equitation, that is that lateral flexability leads to the ability to bend/bend through the body and necessitates proper placement of the entire leg (inside leg closer to the girth/outside leg stretched down and back from hip to heel(without pressing in). A second concept is that horse develops degree of bend over time through working on curved lines (20 m circle). But first there is light lateral flexion (at the atlas/axis) occurs before bending (ie in changing direction).

So, progression in training: 1 lunge a horse on a curved line with a steady tempo, 2 work in hand to teach the horse what very light lateral flexion at the atlas is before riding. There is a difference between pulling one rein and releasing the other (which truncates the neck and the horse falls out) and merely asking for lateral flexion (rider can see inside eyelashes), lifting the inside rein (into the corners of the lip can help with this...in hand first). By riding a big circle (20m) with energy the horse will start to engage the hindlegs more effectively and be limited by the outside rein. As the circle is smaller (in walk 8-10 m) EVERY corner should be three strides, three separate requests (and always the inside leg slightly forward/active, outside leg stretched down/back).

You are right that the horse will appear more balanced and have a degree of self carriage ("I feel teaching this to my horse will help him hold himself better..."). This is because lateral flexibility (with energy) allows for longitudinal balance.

The (german) training scale is 1 RHYTHM (pure gaits/steady tempo/allow for a swinging back and relaxation; 2 suppleness (lateral flexibility leads to longitudinal balance; 3contact (flexion and increase flexion appropo of the level); 4 impulsion (elastic lifting and placing of the hind leg with energy); 5 straightness; 6 collection.
     
    03-11-2013, 08:48 PM
  #6
Weanling
Thank you! So I need to get him on a 20m circle and push him foward and use my legs to ask? I have been doing small circle work but he just holds his head up high, but it seems to be helping him learn to balance.

So balance first, and then the bend?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayty    
Have a look at the German Training Scale. It's a Dressage thing yes, but it applies to most disciplines.

Rhythm and Relaxation are the first two steps on the scale. The horse should travel freely forward, maintaining it's rhythm and tempo.

Then you step up to Connection, Impulsion, Straightness and finally Collection.

To get correct bend, you cannot just pull on the right rein and expect the horse's body to bend right, and vice versa. Pull the right rein and chances are your horse's head will look to the right, but the wither (and rest of the body) will continue to the left.
The hind legs are the horse's engine. Trying to steer and bend without having the engine running is like expecting to get around a turn in a car without the accelerator on. Maybe if you're on a bit of a downhill slope you'll get a bit of speed and be able to drag the car around the bend, but it's not going to be as easy as if you've got your foot down, to push the car around the bend.

If you can establish forward, while riding your body along the line of the circle, you will be surprised at how easily the bend will come. Teaching some steps of leg yield on the circle will help to develop an inside leg-outside rein connection, which will then assist in developing the bend through the ribs. You can then move onto shoulder fore, which will develop even more flexibility through the body.
Bend is balance. That is why smaller circles are not introduced in a Dressage test until a couple of levels up, and ever later in canter. The tighter the turn, the more bend required and therefore the more balance and collection in order to maintain that bend without losing balance. Either through throwing a shoulder to the outside, dropping an inside shoulder, swinging haunches out etc.
     
    03-11-2013, 09:08 PM
  #7
Trained
They will go hand in hand. You can't force bend nor balance. So pulling a horse around on a small circle is only going to throw the shoulder out, weight in the inside fore, swing the haunches out and 'break' the neck laterally.
Start by riding forward on a big circle, maintain a steady contact with your reins (rest your knuckles on his wither if you do not have steady hands) and allow the bend to come. When the hind legs are active and he relaxes through his back, the bend will come.
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    03-11-2013, 09:40 PM
  #8
Weanling
By lateral movement do you mean leg yields, sidepassing etc?
I totally understand what you mean by pulling on the rein to get the head to the inside.
So, how do I get him to hold the bend when on the rail and not on the circle? When I am on the circle, do I hold my outside rein with contact, an open inside hand and press with my inside leg? Anything else? When I try this I feel he falls out immediately.
Thank you!
Quote:
Originally Posted by equitate    
A couple of concepts, one has to do with the theory of training and effects of equitation, that is that lateral flexability leads to the ability to bend/bend through the body and necessitates proper placement of the entire leg (inside leg closer to the girth/outside leg stretched down and back from hip to heel(without pressing in). A second concept is that horse develops degree of bend over time through working on curved lines (20 m circle). But first there is light lateral flexion (at the atlas/axis) occurs before bending (ie in changing direction).

So, progression in training: 1 lunge a horse on a curved line with a steady tempo, 2 work in hand to teach the horse what very light lateral flexion at the atlas is before riding. There is a difference between pulling one rein and releasing the other (which truncates the neck and the horse falls out) and merely asking for lateral flexion (rider can see inside eyelashes), lifting the inside rein (into the corners of the lip can help with this...in hand first). By riding a big circle (20m) with energy the horse will start to engage the hindlegs more effectively and be limited by the outside rein. As the circle is smaller (in walk 8-10 m) EVERY corner should be three strides, three separate requests (and always the inside leg slightly forward/active, outside leg stretched down/back).

You are right that the horse will appear more balanced and have a degree of self carriage ("I feel teaching this to my horse will help him hold himself better..."). This is because lateral flexibility (with energy) allows for longitudinal balance.

The (german) training scale is 1 RHYTHM (pure gaits/steady tempo/allow for a swinging back and relaxation; 2 suppleness (lateral flexibility leads to longitudinal balance; 3contact (flexion and increase flexion appropo of the level); 4 impulsion (elastic lifting and placing of the hind leg with energy); 5 straightness; 6 collection.
     
    03-11-2013, 10:23 PM
  #9
Trained
Lateral movement is sideways movement with bend. Hence leg yielding is not technically a lateral movement, but a precursor to lateral movement.
Lateral bend/flexion is bend to the left and right, longitudinal bend/flexion is up and down, so roundness over the topline.

When you're moving on a straight line, the most you want is a touch of inside flexion keeping the poll and jaw soft, not bend.
Bend on a straight line comes in only if you are riding a lateral movement such as shoulder in, travers or renvers.

On a circle yes hold your outside rein steady, and think of riding your inside leg to your outside hand. The inside rein still needs to maintain a light contact, it is in control of the inside flexion.
Your outside aids turn the horse on the circle.
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    03-12-2013, 11:07 AM
  #10
Foal
Alrighty, I have some questions. The first step in improving, I guess your horses way of moving, is to get them willingly moving forward in a relaxed state. I've got this nailed at a walk, however I really struggle here at the trot. My posting has much to be desired and I feel that hinders somewhat his ability to be relaxed. Although after I began posting(I use to never post.. his poor back :/) , he seems much more comfortable trotting than before.

So how can I improve myself to help him relax into the trot? I can get him to stretch out his neck and head at the walk, but at the trot he really fights to keep his head up. He isn't star gazing by any means! I just would like to see him listen when I ask for him to stretch down and out.

Does anyone have any good tips for improving the rising trot? I know a lot of it comes from the horse. The horse should spring you up, you shouldn't stand up.

Sorry for Hijacking!!

**Edit: I understand the first step is more than just relaxed, it is also willing forward. Lol.. my horse doesnt just podunk around all over. I didn't really phrase that well.
     

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