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Lateral & Vertical Flexion Defined

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - March 1st, 2012 - More with Les

Sixteenth in a series
Now that we’ve worked on resistance in our hands, Les reviews flexion.

In riding terms, flexion is when a horse gives you a smooth, yielding response to a rein cue. In order to do this, of course, the horse’s neck has to be relaxed and supple. When we refer to lateral flexion, it is when the horse willingly and smoothly yields his nose from side to side as a result of direct rein pressure. Later, we will be working on vertical flexion, which is when the horse yields his nose down and back, bending his neck, in response to rein pressure.

Spending lots of time developing lateral flexion here at this level is going to be the best way to get vertical flexion later on because it conditions the horse to yield to light pressure on the bit, and the side-to-side movement is easy for him to understand. If you’ve really done your lateral work until it’s perfect, when you pick up with both of your hands to ask for vertical flexion, your horse should respond quite willingly. If not, the best remedy is more lateral, or side-to-side, work.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More with Les is a regular California Horsetrader column. Les Vogt has won more than 15 World Championships, including two wins at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Although Les still rides and occasionally shows, his focus is giving clinics around the world and developing products for the performance horseman. To learn more about Les and to see his clinic schedule, visit: www.lesvogt.com

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