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How to teach a horse to bend

This is a discussion on How to teach a horse to bend within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Horse unable to bend
  • Horse unable to bend on a circle

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    03-12-2013, 06:05 PM
  #11
Trained
As riders it is our job to help the horse travel in a balanced, comfortable way.
If we are unable to ride with an independent seat, it is unfair to expect the horse to relax and stretch his topline.
The raised head and neck you are getting is a hollowing if your horses topline. The most common reason for this is that the horse is protecting himself from having his back made uncomfortable.
A horses mouth is quite forgiving, but the back is not, therefore it is essential to never punish a horse in the back.

I strongly advise you to seek some lessons on the lunge, on a quiet horse. You need to be able to ride without reins and stirrups, move each limb and your head independently, turn your upper body left and right without effecting the position of your lower leg, etc.
In rising trot, you need to be thinking 'forward, down' rather than 'up, down'. If you rise too high or straight up, you will be left behind the movement and come clunking down on the horses back. Allow the horse to simply roll your hips forward and down with each stride. There should be barely any daylight under your seat.
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    03-12-2013, 06:16 PM
  #12
Banned
Kayty.......your posts are so helpful! They both encourage me (because I realize 'hey I do that!) or they make my 'lightbulb' come on!!!

Awesome job explaining!!
     
    03-18-2013, 11:39 PM
  #13
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayty    
As riders it is our job to help the horse travel in a balanced, comfortable way.
If we are unable to ride with an independent seat, it is unfair to expect the horse to relax and stretch his topline.
The raised head and neck you are getting is a hollowing if your horses topline. The most common reason for this is that the horse is protecting himself from having his back made uncomfortable.
A horses mouth is quite forgiving, but the back is not, therefore it is essential to never punish a horse in the back.

I strongly advise you to seek some lessons on the lunge, on a quiet horse. You need to be able to ride without reins and stirrups, move each limb and your head independently, turn your upper body left and right without effecting the position of your lower leg, etc.
In rising trot, you need to be thinking 'forward, down' rather than 'up, down'. If you rise too high or straight up, you will be left behind the movement and come clunking down on the horses back. Allow the horse to simply roll your hips forward and down with each stride. There should be barely any daylight under your seat.
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I can't tell you how much I would love to get some lessons like that! Unfortunately its really just my horse and I. I've become very conscious recently of everything I do, especially my seat, because I know it affects him.

Sometimes I wish I could take people like you and pull you through my computer and use you as my personal trainer!
     
    03-18-2013, 11:55 PM
  #14
Super Moderator
With regard to the OP . . . Your horse is a gaited horse, right? TWH? They tend to be a lot more rigid in the body than non-gaited. It is part of the whole physics of gaiting. They need to have a more rigid body in order to power off of it. Every gaited horse I have ever known is very stiff in any kind of lateral movement, and will struglle with balance if they are made to circle too small. They find it hard to step sideways, seeming to have less ability to lift the front legs and move them out to the side (a movement that is pretty limited for all horses)

One of the things that helps loosen a horse up and is done at the walk is the disengagement. The whole purpose of that is to have the horse step well under himself with his inside hind.
The rider starts asking the horse to bend into a circle, which becomes a very small cirlce as the rider lifts their hand upward. The horse will eventually stop going forward, his front feet will stop walking and he'll untrack his back feet. The inside hind will step way under the belly (which causes a real rock of the pelvis and a stretch happens), then the next step is the outside hind stepping over sideways. The horse should stop . I'ts basically a one rein stop, but the hind leg MUST step under. You do not wan the horse to just stop moving.

Eventually, the disengagement will happen and the horse will rock back onto his hind end, at which point the front end is lighter and the horse can step his inside front over to complete the turn and start out forawrd again. IT's hard to feel this with out a coach helping, but if you can get the disengagement with a focus on the horse stepping well under wiht the inside hind, this will help to loosen up a stiff horse and can be done at the walk.
     

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