Think this is just for the dressage folk? Think again – this stuff is for you!
Of course, if you are a dressage’y person, you’ll know it’s for you, but even if you just want to tootle round the block on your pony, making sure he’s supple, strong and engaged will keep him sound and healthy for years to come.
Another benefit of this work? It helps horses to become more body-aware, relaxed and focused on you. When horses are more aware of their body and know how to come into balance, it really helps them to relax. Because horses are such physical creatures and rely on being able to move fast to get out of danger, any feeling of imbalance tends to make them anxious. For some horses, this makes them freeze and not want to go forwards, and it makes others speed up in anxiety. When it’s not addressed it can escalate, and this is often the cause of rushing, bolting, bucking, stumbling, planting and napping.
So, when you work on building your horse’s body awareness and come into healthy balance with a rider, it is a key piece of helping them to relax under saddle.
Plus, as you muddle through training it (it’s always wobbly to begin with – check the video out!), you and your horse are working on building more subtle communication and improving responsiveness.
And those are just some of the reasons I LOVE this stuff!
Shoulder-in and haunches-in are two of the most common and useful lateral exercises. For those of you who are new to these exercises, here is a link to a brilliant website which explains each exercise and its benefits: Sustainable Dressage.
It doesn’t tell you how to train them using positive reinforcement, though – that’s what we do! All this stuff is taught step-by-step in-hand and under saddle, why you do it, how to ride it, what to look for etc in our Riding with Connection home study course. Check it out HERE!
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