View Full Version : How do I get left bend?
3rd Jul 2004, 08:29 PM
I need some help with getting left bend on a horse that just won't flex! She is fine to the right but is like a board to the left.
I ride at a riding school and this was the first time I have ridden this horse. I was part of a large group lesson so didn't have the chance to ask the instructor what I was doing wrong. We were on a 20m circle on the left rein and were supposed to be demonstrating the correct amount of bend through the horse's body but this mare would not budge from a straight position.
In each of these scenarios I was using my legs continuously with my outside leg behind the girth.
I tried holding the outside rein, flexing the left rein.
Holding the outside rein, opening the left rein.
Allowing with the outside rein, flexing the inside rein.
Allowing with the outside rein, opening the inside rein.
Using an opposing outside rein, flexing or opening the inside rein.
Nothing worked! She did get a bit better but still rigid as a board. Bearing in mind she is a riding school horse does anyone have any suggestions or criticisms to improve what I was doing as I am totally without ideas for the next lesson?!
4th Jul 2004, 04:21 AM
Em- this is EXACTLY the same battle that I have had with my gelding. Between my trainer and a friend of mine who is a grand prix rider they helped me understand how to begin to teach my horse to bend.
First and foremost, you must start by making sure that your horse is even in the reins and straight (head not turned left or right). Correct bend will come later, straight must come first. If you just turn your horse's head to the left, he will throw his right shoulder out, bend his neck, and not his rib cage. This becomes an evasion the horse will use to avoid bending.
Once you have your horse evenly on the reins and straight, take your left leg and ask him to step to the right just a step or two each time. Don't turn his head to the left, he must stay straight. You may practice this first at a walk, then at a trot. Be sure to reward him after he steps over each time by just trotting straight for a short distance. I also praise my horse verbally.
Eventually you will be able to use this exercise to bend your horse around your left leg and hold him with your outside rein and leg. It's a slow process. It's like someone asking you to write with your opposite hand, so practice this exercise each time you ride and don't give up. It does work!
4th Jul 2004, 05:34 PM
Thanks so much for your advice bayoubloodbay. It makes perfect sense but I had never thought of it. Unfortunately this is a riding school mare so I only ride her occasionally but next time I will definitely try it. She was capable of doing a turn on the forehand off the left leg (although it was rather messy) so I would imagine she could respond to an inside 'pushing' aid. She also tends to twist her head right and fall in through her left shoulder. I did try and keep her straight and she is not too bad at that so there is still hope!
Thanks again for your help and support!
5th Jul 2004, 02:31 AM
Em- The twisting right is an evasion to your wanting her to bend left. If my horse weren't a gelding I'd swear you were riding my horse!:D He use to do exactly the same thing. Once I started making sure that he was straight a lot of that nonsense went away and he improved over all.
You certainly will have a challenge since this is a school horse, but won't it be sweet when you are the one who figures out how to make her bend left through her rib cage instead of just at the poll.
5th Jul 2004, 10:33 PM
The twisting right is an evasion to your wanting her to bend left.
Absolutely! I rode her again tonight and as soon as I asked for left bend we had the right head sawing/swinging. Having said that I worked her straight in the reins for a while and she was really responding to my legs as you suggested. Then I tried alternating the bend through her neck keeping the body straight and she really seemed to respond. I tried flexing through the rib cage but still no 'body bend'(makes her sound like a limbo dancer!) - I think as a combination we are too inexperienced/stiff!Still it was much better and I came away feeling like I had achieved something so thanks for the advice!
If my horse weren't a gelding I'd swear you were riding my horse!
He didn't tell you he was going on holiday to Wales then! Love to know how he got a window seat without anyone noticing on the flight over!:D
6th Jul 2004, 03:21 AM
Em- that is great that you are getting a positive response already. The bend takes quite a while to develop. It's always harder on one side and you will find in the beginning that your horse will come up with all kinds of clever ways to avoid your asking her to go straight, move off your left leg, and bend. Why they don't just go with the flow of things and make everyone's life easier?!
Darn that horse of mine if he went to Wales without me! I'm sure he went first class, ate all the peanuts, charged his ticket on my credit card, then ate the card too! I knew I should have gone out to the barn today. If my four Pembroke Corgis ever find out he went without them it's going to get real ugly around here. They won't be the only ones missing their tails.:eek:
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