Additional Suppling Exercises

Additional Suppling Exercises

The Purpose of These Exercises

  1. These exercises are designed to build strength in the horse, allow him to become more supple, get him to be aware of where his feet are and need to be, and improve his overall balance with the result that the rider will have ready access to all the horse’s parts and the horse can do what the rider requests of him without resistance.
  2. They will also help the rider to become adroit in the use of the aids and more accurate in the timing of their use so as to be in harmony with the footfall and movement of the horse.

Counter-clockwise Rectangle Exercise

  1. Walk the horse forward 10 steps in a straight line and stop straight. Correct any discrepancies (crookedness) before proceeding because if you are not particular you will teach the horse not to be particular either.
  2. Side-step the horse to the left 5 steps and stop.
    1. Use the reins to keep the horse’s head and neck steady; guiding him with the left rein a little out from the neck by moving your left hand forward and to the side (strive for about a 1” movement in each direction). This is the ‘leading’ rein (1st rein effect). Use the right rein against the neck by moving your right hand toward the horse’s mane (but never crossing it) as well as moving it up the shoulder toward the ear. This is the ‘neck’ or ‘brace’ rein (2nd rein effect).
    2. Step into your left stirrup when the horse’s left hip is down but starting to move forward and upward but leave the lower part of your leg ‘open’.
    3. Use your right leg at the girth to ‘push’ the horse to the left when the horse’s right hip is down but starting to move forward and upward. You want the horse’s right front leg to cross over and in front of the left leg and the right hind leg to cross over and infant of the left hind leg.
    4. Alternate using your leg aids with each step and touch and release the reins with each step
  3. Back the horse up 10 steps in a straight line but do not pull him back and stop.
  4. Side-step 5 steps to the right, keeping the horse ‘ship straight’ with your reins. Reverse the position of your legs from step # 2.
  5. The goal is to perform this exercise without stopping in one continuous, smooth maneuver.
  6. Ride this exercise 3 times in a row.
  7. Repeat the exercise going in a clock-wise direction.

Hindquarters Stepping Over Exercise.

  1. Walk the horse forward 10 steps and stop straight.
  2. Move the hindquarters to the left 90 degrees then stop with no forward movement (use the left rein to prevent this) and keep the front quarters in place by:
    1. Tilting your pelvis forward by arching your lower back to relieve the horse’s hindquarters of some weight.
    2. Use a little right direct rein of opposition (3rd rein effect) by moving your right hand straight out to the side about l’ and then toward your hip area to have the horse look slightly to the right and assist the horse’s hindquarters to move to the left.
    3. Step into your left stirrup to hold the horse’s weight on the ground longer and ‘open’ (soften) the lower part of your left leg to allow the hindquarters to move to the left.
    4. Move your right leg back behind the girth to ‘push’ the hindquarters over to the left. Release (soften) the leg after each step and apply it again each time the horse’s right hip is down and starting to move forward and upward. You want the horse’s right hind leg to step in front of the left hind leg and under the mass of his body. You do not want the horse to ‘shuffie’ or the right hind leg to step behind the left hind leg.
  3. Now move the hindquarters to the right 90 degrees and stop with no forward movement and keep he front quarters staying in place by:
  4. Reversing your rein and leg aids mentioned in # 2
  5. Back the horse up 10 steps in a straight line but do not pull him back and stop.
  6. Repeat the exercise taking away 1 step each time until you get to just 1 step forward and 1 step backward.
  7. Time the use of your leg aids with the movement of the horse’s legs.
  8. Give the horse a break, then do the exercise again. Only this time move the hindquarters to the right first and then back to the left.

Front End Stepping Over Exercise

  1. Walk the horse forward 10 steps and stop straight
  2. Move the front end to the left 90 degrees and stop with no forward movement keeping the hindquarters staying in place by:
    1. Tilting your pelvis a little backward by flattening your lower back to relieve the horse’s front end of some weight.
    2. Stepping into (‘loading’) your left stirrup to unload the right side of the horse to make it easier for him to step around with the right foot stepping over and across in front of (not behind) the left foot.
    3. Using your left rein as a ‘leading’ rein (1st rein effect) with a little backward retardation to cause the horse’s left shoulder to ‘lift’ a little and the left front leg to move backward so as not to be in the way of the right leg crossing over ; called ‘setting back the shoulder.’
    4. Moving your right leg slightly forward toward the horse’s right shoulder to move it to the left.
    5. Using your right rein in the 2nd rein effect position (brace or neck rein) to help move the shoulders to the left.
  3. Move the horse’s front end to the right 90 degrees and stop on the line that you started from with no forward movement and the hindquarters staying in place. Reverse the use of your aids as described in# 2 above.
  4. Back up the horse 10 steps in a straight line, but do not pull him back.
  5. Repeat the exercise taking away 1 step each time until you get to just 1 step forward and 1 step backward.
  6. Time the use of your aids with the movement of the horse’s feet.
  7. Give the horse a break, then do the exercise again. Only this time move the front end to the right first and then back to the left.

Turning Back to the Outside of a Circle Exercise

  1. Walk the horse forward in a clockwise circle to the right in a positive arc.
  2. Stop the horse.
  3. Back up the horse, counter-bent to the arc of the circle and now moving counter-clockwise (use of the 3rd rein effect position [direct rein of opposition] with the left rein may be helpful here) and turn him back to the outside of the circle (left) 180 degrees so that you will be traveling in the opposite direction; again in a positive arc.
  4. You will do this by ‘drawing’ him around his outside (right) hind leg. When that leg is all the way back (the hip will be in the up position), the inside (left) hind leg will be fully engaged under the mass of the horse’s body (the hip will be in the down position) and that is the ideal time and position to ask him to turn his front quarters over that inside pivot leg to the outside of the circle.
  5. To start the turn use the following aids simultaneously:
    1. Change your inside (left) rein form the 3rd rein effect (direct rein of opposition) to the 4th rein effect position (indirect rein of opposition in front of the withers; (the ‘flex’ rein) by moving your left hand toward the horse’s withers but keeping it in front of the saddle so that the horse is flexed and looking slightly to the outside of the circle.
    2. Step straight down into your right stirrup. This will ‘unload’ the left side of the horse to make it easier for him to step to the left and back with his inside (left) front foot.
    3. Use your right rein in the 2nd rein effect position (the neck or ‘brace’ rein) by touching the base of the horse’s neck and angling it a little bit toward your belly button or left hip.
    4. Then, as the horse begins to turn to the left change your left rein from the ‘flex’ rein to the 1st rein effect position (the leading rein) to help lead the front quarters around (this rein is the supporting rein – the principal rein of action is the brace rein). Use a little backward retardation to cause the left front shoulder and leg to move back so as to not be in the way of the right leg crossing over (‘setting the shoulder back’).
  6. To finish the turn, once it has begun, use the following aids simultaneously:
  7. Step straight down into your left stirrup keeping the lower part of your leg ‘open’. This will ‘unload’ the right side of the horse to make it easier for him to step around with the right foot stepping over and across in front of (not behind) the left foot.
  8. Move your right leg to a position a little ahead of the girth to help move the horse’s right shoulder over to the left with his right front leg crossing over in front of his left leg.
  9. Use your aids so that they are in time with the movement of the horse’s feet.
  10. After the turn is completed, ‘rock’ the horse back 1 step. Do not pull him back!
  11. Then go forward again and repeat the exercise.
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