Thought this would be a good subject to discuss for those that may be confused with a horse that just bends to a horse that is truly supple.
Kayty also posted a good response on the other thread.
Suppleness developes out of the driving forces of the rider acting on the hind to produce the energy to allow the hind leg swing to reach its maximun extension (or as far as the conformation of the horse allows).
It is this energy that allows the energy to travel along the back and neck muscles and stimulate the horse to seek contact.
This is a good thread Spyder. So many of the concepts that we deem as simple and obvious really are not when you are just starting out in dressage.
Suppleness, like rhythm, relaxation, straightness, throughness etc etc all comes from forward, and thus engagement.
You cannot achieve a horse that is truely on the aids, collected, and able to perform anything more advanced than a simple walk-trot transition unless you have engagement. Simple as that.
You cannot truely 'steer' a horse without engagement. Trying to give direction to a horse on the forehand is like trying to steer a road train around a tight bend. When engaged, the horses hind legs act as a 'rudder' (I am fighting to put this into simple, bite sized pieces!!) through turns. They push the horse around the bend and keep it upright. In a way, the forehand follows to hind end, rather than the front legs pulling the horse along, the hind legs PUSH the horse along. Much like a 4WD car compared to a front wheel drive car. The 4WD gives a far greater degree of control over the vehicle as the back wheels are pushing the car and giving direction, where as putting a front wheel drive on a muddy, slippery track will result in the car sliding out in the back end.
...the hind legs CARRY the horse along.
A racehorse 'PUSHES' himself along on his forehand, but a dressage (riding) horse 'CARRIES' himself.
As i said above, trying to put it into simple words ;)
i was attempting to put it as though the hind legs are doing the driving, and the front end is simply going along for the ride so to speak. Perfectly understand what you are saying about carrying vs. pushing though, it was a simple attempt at putting my explanation into bite size, understandable pieces for those who do not know the ins and outs of dressage 'lingo' so to speak ;) But i can see that yes, I suppose pushing does give s lightly wrong idea.
No worries mercedes, totally understand ;) I've never been good at explaining in simple terms what I know in my head. I could never been a coach as I just 'do' things if that makes any sense at all.
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