LateralLooseness is the essential aim of the preliminary training phrase and by this I mean relaxation of all of the joints and muscles.  Only when your horse is supple can he create impulsion, be straight and have balance with a swinging back and self-carriage. Looseness is not achieved overnight, particularly if you have started with a horse that has a degree of stiffness anywhere in its body and/or legs. Laterally the horse should be able to bend his body from poll to tail without falling in on the shoulder or swinging out the haunches.  The only means you have for acquiring lateral suppleness in your horse is lateral bending.

LateralLongitudinally (length-wise), the horse’s joints should bend and straighten equally on each side of its body with each stride; he should be able to lengthen and shorten whilst maintaining rhythm.With supple muscles comes strength.  

It is the act of contracting and stretching the muscles that makes them strong and supple and it is with bending and flexing exercises; lengthening and shorting of the paces that we can do this.
Here’s what to do … whatever your level of training try to incorporate shoulder-fore, shoulder-in, renvers and quarter turns into your warm up and regular traiing.  It will serve you will to master these lateral movements in the early stages of your training.Play a little with lengthening and shortening your horse’s paces too.Just like your own stretching regime! cough, cough! Your horse will benefit from exercises which are intended to stretch and contract the muscles, but you must do it regularly and keep it up, otherwise he will become sore.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster


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