By: jrcuttinghorses.com - From the August Issue of Local Horse Magazine
Flexion is the start of a solid training foundation in any discipline. Flexion allows you to control your horse. Without Flexion you have no direction, control or softness in the horse’s body.
Flexion starts with Lateral Flexion, the ability to softly flex your horse’s noses from side to side without resistance. Once you have Lateral Flexion you then can get Vertical Flexion. Vertical Flexion allows you to take your horses face in a vertical position softening from the poll between both reins.
Lateral flexion is the start of teaching your horse directional control, which then develops into to the turn around and roll backs. Lateral flexion is also referred to as a one rein stop. Without Lateral flexion your horse can not turn around correctly and balance.
To teach your horse Lateral Flexion to the left: Step 1: Start walking an even circle to the left
Step 2: Continue walking your circle, apply pressure with your left leg as you reach down and take the left rein gently. Pull the left rein to your left thigh and hold in position, ensuring your right rein is loose.
Step 3: As your horse gives you his head, softens to the rein and stops forward motion you need to soften or reduce the leg pressure and hold the rein until the horse has softened on the rein, causing some slack in the rein and is standing still. Release is then given as reward. Ensure at all times there is slack in the right rein.
The horse must be standing still and his head flexed to your boot or shoulder before you let the rein go.
An important point to remember whilst doing Lateral Flexion exercises is for the rider to remain balanced and centred in the saddle so the horse can remain balanced.
Swap sides and repeat the process on the Right Side.
The end result is that you can reach down and flex your horses head from side to side softly without his feet moving.
Vertical Flexion is only achieved once you can softly flex your horse left & right without resistance. Vertical Flexion is when your horse flexes his head at the poll and holds it in a vertical position both standing still and travelling Forward & Backwards. Vertical Flexion allows your horse to stop softly and correctly. Vertical Flexion allows the horse to move efficiently forward and backwards.
Teaching your horse vertical flexion
Step 1: Walking forward, gently take hold of your horses belly with both legs to encourage the hind end to drive forwards; with your hands low and level, shorten the reins so you have contact with the bit.
Step 2: Continue using your legs to drive the horse forward into the bridle. As your horse drops his nose down, the reins will soften and slacken in your hands. Open your fingers to release some rein to reward your horse. As demonstrated in the picture below this horse’s nose is vertical to the body demonstrating vertical flexion.
The end results are that when you take hold of the reins and squeeze with your legs your horse flex’s his head vertically from the poll. This exercise can be done standing still or whilst travelling forward or back.
Vertical Flexion Standing Still
The importance of Lateral and Vertical Flexion cannot be stressed enough to horse owners. Flexion improves horse performance at all levels and is a must in any training program whether competitive or non competitive across all disciplines.
Horsezone is pleased to be working with Local Horse Magazine and welcomes their contributions. For more great articles like this one go to www.localhorsemagazine.com.au
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