Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day Ten: flexion

Still progressing nicely.  We had much better luck when flexing the head and neck towards me, but after a few repetitions, Stevie was flexing away from me just as nicely!  The winding up exercise is one this filly was already familiar with;  it's one of the first things I teach my young horses, especially during halter breaking because it tends to get them lighter off the lead rope.

Winding up:  I start by draping the lead rope above the hocks, and backing away from Stevie.

As I back away, Stevie bends her head and neck around and disengages her hindquarters. 

A few more steps backwards starts to bring her shoulders around. 

Lateral flexions:

This exercise basically simulates what happens when I ride.  It's important that each time you flex your colt, you hold it until they soften; it's not a true flexion until that happens.  As a side note, each time I flex her neck towards me, I'll end by stepping her hips away.  This reinforces the connection between the rein and her feet.  So, basically, the sequence goes something like this:  flex the neck to me, wait for her to soften, then turn and drive the hips away to release the pressure. 

Here, she has softened, and I've turned to drive her hips.

Initially, when we started flexing away from me, Stevie showed a great deal of resistance due to confusion.  She's comfortable to flexing towards me, and knows that it's the quickest way to get relief from pressure.  Because she is confused, it manifests as resistance. 

It didn't take too long before Stevie discovered that she could flex away from me too.  Notice the difference in expression from the above picture.  The confusion is gone, and she is nice and soft.  She's getting there!

Please use caution and common sense.  Horses are large animals, with an exceptional amount of power and strength.  They are also concerned above all with their own personal safety, and will do whatever they feel it takes to keep themselves from harm.  Being individuals that act and react differently, the only certainty you have when working a horse is uncertainty.  I am a professional trainer with twenty plus years experience, yet even with the knowledge I possess, I still get hurt from time to time.  This blog and the accompanying media are for entertainment purposes only.  No responsibility will be assumed for injuries or damages incurred while trying to use these methods at home.  Please ride responsibly; protective gear can save your life!

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