length of your reins and dictated by the path you’re following—
your horse’s body conforming to the size and shape of the arc.
It’s also important to maintain a consistent pace as your horse
enters, executes, and exits a bend. A slowing or shortened stride
is a sign of lost lateral and horizontal balance that can easily be
restored with a few encouraging squeezes from your legs.
6. Ride to the Side
Lateral moves increase your horse’s responsiveness, agility and
coordination. Use shoulder-in to rebalance him and activate/strengthen his inside
hind leg. It can be performed on any straight section of trail.
Simply flex him slightly in one direction as though you are preparing for a
turn, letting his shoulders begin to step into that direction. Turn your shoulders
slightly that way too. Then gently push him forward down the trail with your
inside leg (the leg he is flexed toward) at the girth while his shoulders continue
to stay shifted to the inside of the path.
The leg-yield (moving forward and to the side on a diagonal line) increases
your horse’s responsiveness to your leg, increases the reach of his shoulders, and
activates his inside hind leg. Hold your reins evenly and make light contact with
your horse’s mouth. Slide your outside leg forward toward his shoulder and
move him over with your inside leg in the middle of his ribcage.
you will feel a lightening of the reins,
a slowing of his stride, and a momentary compression of his gait, which
with practice he will maintain for
longer periods of time. Anytime you
feel that wonderful rearward shift of
balance and energy, quiet your hand
and reward your horse with verbal
praise and withers scratches.
5. Curve Control
Bending is invaluable for developing strength, suppleness, and lateral/
horizontal balance. You can bend your
horse anywhere the trail curves, but
weaving in and out of trees is an excellent way to practice this exercise.
Shorten your inside rein and touch
your horse at the cinch with the calf of
your inside leg until he flexes his spine.
The degree of bend is created by the
Adding in lateral
work, both on
the trail and