is lateral flexion and why is it so important to so many other aspects of
flexion is more than just pulling on a rein and getting your horse to turn
its head. Good flexion should be taught early on and encouraged throughout
a horse’s life. It is like Pilates Yoga for your horse. It helps to
create a supple and soft body and a willing mind in your horse.
have hard bodies, not hard mouths! … The mouth is nothing more than
a sending station. If every body part (poll, neck, shoulder, ribcage and
hips) is unwilling to yield and soften, the mouth will feel hard and unwilling
to soften to your pressure on the reins. When you have your horse’s
boy soft and supple, the mouth will feel very light, soft and willing to
give to the pressure you apply with the reins. Basically, in a nutshell,
the more we bend our horse laterally, the easier he will be to control.”
Courtesy of Natural Horse Magazine
The other main advantage of lateral flexion is that is a great way to get
your horse to mentally check in with you while you are on their back. It
only takes a quick few seconds to quietly, and gently, grab your horse’s
attention when they begin to wander mentally, get frustrated, or turn emotional.
say that you are on trail and your horse spooks, or begins to get very busy
with his feet changing gaits sporadically, instead of yelling at him or
smacking him with the reins (which we NEVER recommend), quietly and politely
begin to ask him for hindquarter disengagement and lateral flexion. Once
you regain control of the feet, then just sit quietly and ask for lateral
flexion two or three times on each side. You will notice his eye start to
soften a bit and your horse will relax somewhat. By the time you are on
your last flexion, the horse will almost anticipate it and begin the flexion
with almost no cue from you. At this point, you can let him have his head
straight and then just sit and rub his neck in a reassuring way.
whether you are working on suppleness, collection, an emergency brake or
a way to get your horse’s attention, lateral flexion is your key.
face it, the bottom line is we all want a better all around control of our
horses and lateral flexion offers us a way to achieve that control physically,
and mentally, without the use of mechanical means. So once again, lateral
flexion is your master key.
“The first thing I’ll go to once I’m up riding him
is asking him to get some flexion left and right. That’s my doorway
in to everything I want to do: getting him to bend his nose left and right.”
“Flexion: The Doorway In”
The Trail Less Traveled March 2003