Add this page to your favorites
Recommend Page

Sell and buy at ebay

Search Web Search
powered by FreeFind

Main Page Address
A-Z Forum
German Main Page

Joy and Fun with Horses and Horseback Riding

Solving problems concerning suppleness

What to do if the horse doesn’t relax and if its muscles don’t getting flexible?

Authored by Beate Schulze and translated by Martina Wald

Books about horses and riding generally at

google - Anzeige

News and more


reasons flexion and bend exercises

The reasons

If your horse does not show any signs of suppleness or it continues to tense the neck and back after the relaxation phase, this can be caused by various matters:

Tension in the spine and in the neck muscles

Have you ever tried to be relaxed while ducking the poll?

Please try it. Ducking your poll that the head is more or less sitting directly on your shoulders, your shoulders will get tensed and spine together with your neck will get completely immobile. Turns in spine are only possible for minimal movements.

Could horses duck their poll as well? Usually that looks different. You can often recognize - while the horse shows a high neck pose – the bulge which emerges from the jowl. Therefore, the horse pushes its spine back to the withers and sinks down more and more to its shoulders.

Here you can see the bulge.

The neck muscles get very hard and an indicative or massive lower neck is caused. The big muscle part develops along the lower part of the neck. In such positions the spine blocks as well. The horse cannot move with a swinging back and a dropping neck, the hindlegs  stand outside and move often with unequal steps. That feels absolutely the same as if you duck your poll, so it is completely tensed.

To solve this problem, you have to change between flexion to the in- and outside again and again. We can practise this in walk, trot and canter. Due to the flexion the muscles will be stretched on one side of the neck. On the other side of the neck they contract.
Try it again on your own, duck your poll, take a hand and push your head to one side, so, that the cheek goes to the shoulder. You will notice that your muscles relax on the tensed side. Basically stretched muscles cannot be cramped. While giving flexion you relax the neck muscles and cause a stretching of the neck whirls.

A horse moving with back and suppleness

To make this better understandable, we make a little excursion into flexion and bend

Flexion and bend

Flexion is only possible in the area of the first neck whirl the so called Atlas.
The horse looks a little bit in direction of flexion. The other part of the neck nearly remains straight.


Bend works in the complete body, it starts in the neck and ends at the tail. The bend of the neck’s spine must not be stronger than the bend of the back's spine.


  • exercises where flexion is needed: turn on the forehand, leg yielding

  • exercises where bend is needed: all kinds of turns, shoulder in

As one side of the neck muscles is in a relaxed condition the horse can now drop the neck and receives a stretching in the longitudinal direction, which relaxes the muscles again.
Due to the forward-downward neck position the muscles of the spine are be stretched and relaxed.

A horse in canter with good flexion and bend


First exercise:

Riding B-X-E (E-X-B) without change of rein, you have to give bend before riding the corners (circle point, 6 metres in front of the corner) by giving flexion and moving forward with the inside leg, riding into the corner (the leg is lying at the girth) as if you wanted to ride leg yielding – you limit the horse with your outside and out of the hip back positioned leg, thus leg yielding is not possible – but you get the correct bend and flexion.
In the middle of the corner you allow the reins with the inside hand and drive forward with the legs (and of course with the spine as well).
During this action the horse has to keep the bend and flexion even with allowing rein.

If than the horse drops its neck, you allow the reins as far as the mouth has reached the position between the elbow and the joints of the upper part of the forehand. Therefore the horse does not roll up its neck but has to stretch it forward-downward and into length.

Second exercise:

When starting the relaxation part you can work with 3 – 5 cavalettis (with a distance of 80 cm at the circle point). Now let your horse move about the poles (most horses are stretching their necks while moving over the poles). Than you turn into the circle straight away keeping the flexion and bend and than let your horse move over the poles once more.

Third exercise:

Once again put 3 – 5 cavalettis at the circle point with a distance of 80 cm. After the cavaletti work turn into the circle once more and at the open side of the circle you let your horse training leg yielding of the inside leg.

Message to Beate about this article


Copyright © 2003 / 2007, Forchheim, Germany Disclaimer of