3 Quick Tips to Make Sure Your Horse is Bending in Lateral Work

In order for your lateral work such as shoulder-in, haunches-in, and half passes to be effective as collecting exercises, your horse must BEND.

Think of the following equation as it relates to your horse. Bend+Sideways=Engagement. (Engagement means the bending of joints. As your horse bends his hind legs, his croup lowers, and his forehand goes up—kinda like a seesaw or an airplane taking off.)

So here are 3 quick tips to help you determine if you’re bending your horse correctly to get maximum benefit from your lateral work.

1.    Shoulder-in—Look at the hindquarters. Are they parallel to the wall as if you’re just riding straight down the track? If so, your horse is bending. If not, he’s doing a leg-yield in shoulder-in position.

2.    Haunches-in–Look at the forehand. It should look exactly the same as it does when you just go straight down the long side. If your horse’s neck is more bent to the inside than that, you’re fudging the bend. If his shoulders or front feet point out toward the wall, he’s just doing a leg yield in haunches-in position.

3.    Half-pass—Half pass is just haunches-in on a diagonal line. So the same rules that apply in #2 above, apply for half passes. To check yourself, go straight across the diagonal as if you’re just changing direction. Then ride haunches-in for 3 or 4 strides. Then go straight again. The critical point is when you straighten your horse. Ask yourself if your horse has to swivel his forehand around to get it back on the diagonal line. If he does, he isn’t truly bending in the half pass.

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4 Responses to 3 Quick Tips to Make Sure Your Horse is Bending in Lateral Work

  1. denise says:

    I was at a clinic with Karl Mikolka this last week and this is exactly how I saw him teaching.
    I have seen a lot being done the wrong way and didn’t even no it…
    This is very discriptive..thank you

  2. Jane Savoie says:

    You’re welcome! I’m a great fan of Karl’s.

  3. Christine Sander says:

    Makes perfect sense to me. I arrived at the same conclusion after spending some time with it, in the saddle and thinking about it. But I never heard anyone speak about these exercises that way and I don’t see it in the literature. How did you happen upon this definition of shoulders and haunches in? Best, C.

  4. Jane Savoie says:

    That’s how it was taught to me!

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