Asking for more bend
The problem is both my mares are very stiff going right AND my left leg is not effective enough (because of the bad injury in past). So more often than not I have problems with bend and yield going right on circle (going left is fine). So I wonder if there are any tips/tricks on improving it. I do circle in/out (the tighter the circle the better bend is, and they seem to be more "giving", but it's getting worse as long as circle is getting bigger).
Have you tried doing bending exercises such as serpentines and figure eights to get them to move with the bend several times instead of just in a tight circle or of the four corners of a ring. I have the same problem and my trainer told me to keep practicing the bending every single time we ride as our warm up, so my horse gets a good stretch and will work his top line as well as keeping his bending and movement in place.
Nicole, what do you mean by "several times"? Changing the direction of the bend? I do serpentine sometime. :-)
You might try bending around objects, such as cones, poles or barrels - weaving back and forth around something they can see, even at a walk or slow trot, tends to help them understand what's being asked, especially if they're stronger on one side than the other.
ah sorry! haha Yes by changing direction up and down and back and forth and going to the left and going to the right. And the serpentine allows me to do more then the 4 corners the ring allows me to bend because I can get in about 6 of them from one end to the other. Hopefully I explained this better, sorry my fault.
Shoulder in and leg yield on a circle ;)
FANTSTIC exercise... Work on a 20m circle, leg yield off the outside leg down to a 15m circle, then back out to a 20m circle. As you're yielding back out to the 20m circle, put your horse in shoulder in (or shoulder fore if horse is not established in shoulder in) and continue onto the 20m circle.
Straight up after one circle, then back to leg yielding in and out, back to shoulder in etc.
Mixing this up into serpentines and figure of 8's will really get that change of bend happening, and don't be affraid to overbend at times.
Essentially, you want to be able to move the hind quarters and the shoulders wherever you want to. If I'm on a 'sticky' horse, I will ride in slight shoulder for for most of my ride, shaking it up with some renvers and travers, into leg yields with bend on circles etc.
Avoid straight lines - they encourage a horse to be stiff and brace if you don't have the connection established enough on a circle. Straight lines are for testing your work on the circle, circles are for training :)
Kayty said it perfectly!
Kayty, how do you ask for shoulder in? I did talk to my trainer about it couple lessons back, but looks like we are not advanced enough for the exercise.
If you haven't ridden much shoulder in, I would start with very slight shoulder fore. Shoulder fore is really just increasing the bend around your inside leg and slightly moving the shoulders to the inside.
Inside leg on the girth, outside leg slightly behind. Ride your hips straight on the line of the 20m circle, and turn your shoulders to the inside on the angle you would like to ride the shoulders. Keep a consistent contact on the outside rein and ride your inside leg and hips towards your outside hand.
You don't need to move the shoulders too much, just enough to increase the bend around the inside leg.
Hope that helps a little, 25mins left of work and I'm close to falling asleep on my keyboard!
Thanks Kayty!! I need to help Duffy's education along and just about to start a thread up about how to introduce leg yielding and shoulder in ;D
I agree with going whole school... the only time I go whole school is in a) a canter- she isn't very balanced so I make her support herself without getting faster! and b) doing medium trot... go whole school with a 15/10m circle to carry you on and on ;D
I find that if I want to ask for more bend, doing a lot of long, low work with the horse to begin with really helps, they get to move, stretch and warm their backs up first, I then do about 10 minutes of 'up' work where I ask for more contact with my reins, more engagement from the hind, and 4 loop serpentines, and 10m circles. Then, 5 minutes long and low doing big figures, figures of eight, three loop serpentines, changes over the diagonal....
When you say you're left leg is weaker I don't know how much you'd be able to cope with flexing to the inside and flexing to the outside as you need a lot of leg and weight in the saddle, not just hands and reins. I try and do this a lot as it gets her back supple, and she has to listen to my weight in the saddle, not just carry on travelling in an outline.
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