BHR: Bending on the stiff side

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Well-Known Member
Mar 26, 2005
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Ottawa Ontario
So it's time for my nearly semi-annual training question. I have a young pony who is a doll under saddle, she goes in a cute frame, engages herself naturally, jumps a course and all that jazz. She learned to leg yield off the left in minutes. But she will not bend to the right or leg yield off the right. She knows turn on the forehand and that she should go away from pressure, but when I try to get a little bend she just turns in a little circle (Yes I am keeping my inside leg on very strongly). So I was wondering if anyone had any tips of loosening up her stiff side. I'm probably going to take her to have lessons with a great dressage coach around here, I just have to fit that into the budget so am looking for any ideas until then.

This is one of her first times jumping (Sorry it's bad quality, was taken off a video)


Well....... since i did exstensievely dressage and have worked with quite a few horses and problem horses this one I hope I can help you with.

One question would be, have you checked her teeth? THat may be part of the problem there.

But usually a horse has a hard side, some times worse than others. I know what has worked the best on horses like that is to lunge them daily in a surcingle (miss spelled?) with side reins (with not letting her get to low in front) but lungeing her over cavelleties and really making her work at the trot on the lunge line. And then work on the transitions on the lunge line. Let her build up the strength and muscle on her hard side. But would work her for 20 minutes on the lunge line and longer on her hard side and then get on her and working on surpentines and half halts and really working on her self carriage and would when you ride her if you'd work on a 30 meter circle and then get smaller and smaller and then get larger and larger again and keep her in the right carriage, that really helps strenghten that side. There's lots of "fun" things to really get her to build that side up.
Concerning cavelettis, a trainer suggested to me to make one end taller than the other. I use a cinder block with holes, raising one end up higher than the other, and alternating high and low sides.

Also, I am wondering if one reason a horse can be off balance is our tendency to always lead or approach from the same side. I am trying to remember to approach my off-balance boy from his weaker side and do some grooming things on that side, such as mane brushing and face cleaning. When we are out for a walk, I try to remember to lead on both sides--left side heading out and right side heading home.

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