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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

September 21, 2009

Bending and flexion

It has been a long time since we visited bending and flexion, and Phebes is indeed very flexible for a right bend, but her left she is stiff as a board and kind of pivots on her haunches rather than a nice bend to her neck and body. We worked on nothing but bending this evening and I made very little progress getting that left bend in motion. I can get it if we are halted.




  1. Could be a mental or physical brace. I would check out the physical. How does she do for carrot stretches? Have you tried them. You stand by her side and ask her to reach around and bend and she gets a carrot for a reward. If they have a hard time on either side with carrot stretches then likely there is a physical problem. Could be teeth, back, feet, etc.

    If the carrot stretches go well, then it is probably a mental brace and patience, timing, and taking the time it takes will go a long way. I'm sure your instructor will have some good ideas for you, but I'd be glad to take a look on Sunday too and see if I notice/see anything in your timing and feel.

  2. Well it is a start halted! I cant do it at all with my Thoroughbred :( He just sits their and swings his head up looking at me like "what the hell am i supposed to do! lets just GO!" :)

  3. mmm....I'm definately no expert but I can tell you what worked for me on Farley's "hard" side (the right side).

    She would either not bend of give me counterbend. Once she did bend, she would fall into the circle. Here's what's working for me.

    Not bending: Keep asking. Keep in mind you are asking her to yeild to pressure - you could care less about bend. Keep your outside hand rock steady, carry the inside hand a bit higher and to the inside. Rub the bit (through the reins) on her lower jaw - not see-saw- but like you are rubbing the bit on the inside across her jaw in a back and forth instead of a side to side.

    counterbending: Lots of inside leg. Do not pull with the outside rein. do some half halts with the outside as you continue to ask for bend to the inside. I know "don't pull" and "do a half halt" sound contridicutory.

    falling to the inside. Ride the corners of a circle. Agressively. She WILL go to the points you designate. On the sides of the square, gradually ask for more bend. Get aggressive with the inside leg - MAKE HER move off of it. At one point the trainer had a lunge whip and "helped" Farley to understand that my inside leg means move away. When I was at home and she would start to totally ignore me, I would thump HARD and eventually pull her nose to my knee - not nicely and MOVE THAT HINDQUARTERS around. She seemed convinced of my desire to produce 20 meter circles after that.

    My trainer says that mares, as the rider reads the dressage manual,they are reading the manual on avoidence tactics. the biggest thing is to stay relaxed, and don't get tense and treat it like a game. Convince her she really does want to do it.

  4. Also, try it from the ground. Use a dressage whip and a bridle, preferably one with a mild bit. But if you won't, use what you have. It's always easier to teach dressage in the bridle first, then if you must, go to bitless.

    Michelle Detmer