Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Basics of Bending

Jag and I have started with our lessons a few months ago. We started with the basic of basics. For Jag that meant we were working on rounding his frame. In layman's terms it means he's to distribute more weight to his hind end, raise up his back and subsequently his neck will arch with a lovely long stretch out and down. To achieve this I have to get him to bend from my inside leg, squeeze and release with my inside hand and hold steady with the outside rein and outside leg for support. What was interesting to me at first was realizing that it's not the pulling back of the rein that will cause the desired reaction, it is the releasing of the rein which gets the horse to stretch out and down along with the inside leg. The squeezing of my hands on the rein is me asking him to do it and the release gives him the opportunity to give it. My leg gives him the bend and suppling of the rest of the body. That's a lot going on! Needless to say we work on it all the time.

Here is a video I made from our lesson several weeks ago. It's pretty cheesey but it was eye opening to me to see the difference in my horse from when I rode him and when Betsy rode him!! You can clearly see Jag carrying himself and reaching underneath himself with his hind legs much better.

Going to the right is Jag's "bad direction." Typically he will lean on your right leg and his shoulder falls towards the middle of the arena. Here is a photo that shows him doing just that at the canter:

canter bad direction

It's not a whole lot of fun to ride when he starts in on that. Ironically, we worked on this issue and now he is doing the opposite! He is over flexing and not obedient to the outside aids. A couple nights ago, I called Betsy up lamenting his new behavior. He would be bent like a pretzel (it felt like) to turn to the right but he kept going straight until either a) I stopped him or b) we ran into something. We ran into the mounting block several times and we have many marks on the wall where we ran into it. I felt like we were a truck that had a tire blow out and lost all steering capabilities. Jag's a clever guy and he was totally taking advantage of me. After the telephone consultation with Betsy, I was better prepared for his antics. I started to prepare much further ahead for the turn, I kept him more straight underneath me rather than bending him to the inside - I'd get him overbent - and eureka! We were able to turn to the right again!

Here's Betsy working him to the right. He was trying his antics on her too:


and after some time she was able to steer him with no rein contact!!

steering wheel not needed

One thing about Jag, he's an excellent student! And as soon as he does something right we are always quick to praise him with a pat on the neck and a kind word:

good boy

The pat may not seem like much but boy does he respond well to it. He works hard to please and enjoys learning.

What do you think of his bling?

hows the bling


  1. Great photos...!

    Jag is doing a great job. It's not easy going back to school!