Bending Your Horse the Correct Wayhorse riding online
As we saw last time, flexion is necessary for bending your horse and correct bending is necessary to ride a turn or circle properly.
You can turn your horse without correct bend, but it will be awkward - he won’t be balanced, and the movement will be difficult for him.
Make it easier on your horse by getting that bend right. Look at photos and videos of dressage horse riding online as the riders turn, to see examples of correct bending.
Description of Correct Bend
This is when your horse is bent laterally, with his whole spine curved round your inside leg. His neck mustn’t be more bent than his rib cage, and his hind legs must follow the tracks of the forelegs on a curve.
What is ‘Lateral Bend’?
Lean sideways to touch the outside of your knee with your hand. You are now bending laterally.
Your Horse’s ‘Chocolate Side’
Most horses bend more easily to one side than the other, usually the left. Their muscles are shorter on this ‘chocolate side’ as the Germans call it (Schokoladenseite) including their neck muscles.
With correct bending, the muscles will become even on both sides of your horse.
Aids for Bending
- Increase your inside leg aid on the girth
- Place your weight on your inside seat bone
- Flex the horse to the inside, with your outside rein controlling the neck bend and your inside rein creating the flexion
- Hold your outside leg behind the girth to prevent the horse’s quarters from swinging out.
A horse that wants to avoid bending in the rib cage will overbend his neck, and his shoulders will continue on the original track without turning. Straighten him up, flex him again, and maintain a stronger outside rein as you ask him to bend.
Correct flexing and bending keep your horse supple and easy to ride. Use your horseback lessons to flex and bend your mount the right way and you’ll have a comfortable, controllable horse.
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