What is flexion?

Flexion produces a small degree of movement to the left or right, from the poll to the wither.

The flexing rein requests the flexion and the non-flexing rein contains the amount of flexion allowed.

Flexion is to prepare your horse before you ride on a circle or corner and is used to supple your horse before asking for a bend. 

This horse is peforming counter flexion 

This horse is peforming counter flexion 

Once you've mastered the art of flexion, your horse will no longer take your inside rein as a steering aid.

If you have to use your outside rein to keep your horse on the track then your outside rein is doing your inside legs job and that means you're requesting your horse to bend to the outside rather than flexing correctly. 

To help you get the feeling for what flexion is, try the following exercise:

  • You can do it in halt, or, if your horse is better on the move, then quietly walk around the arena on a light but equal contact. This exercise isn't about getting your horse 'on the bit', but it will give you greater submission and aid self-carriage. 
  • There should be a straight line from your horse's mouth, along the rein through your hands to your elbows 
  • Maintain a contact with your thumbs pointing towards his bet and your hands fist height off his neck
  • Be aware of your own body position from left to right and front to back. Think of yourself as a Lego man with a stalk on your bottom that plugs into a hole in your saddle - keep this as the basis of your position
  • In halt, with your horse's head and neck in front of you, imagine a line drawn from each side of his shoulder forward to either side of his head like a corridor
  • Ask your horse to gently turn his head to the left until his nose touches your imaginary corridor line to the left. A good gauge of how far to go when flexing is to see that it produces a small gap between the left rein and your horse's neck, and the right rein should touch their neck.
  • Repeat to the right

5 tips for showing success with your horse

Find out how you and your horse can really impress in the show ring with top tips from the judges themselves.

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Don't forget your flatwork

For Working Hunter classes especially, our judges explained that, for may people, the jumping phase of a class causes quite a lot of worry.

As a result, these riders don't then spend enough time on flatwork phase of the their class.

Ride your horse in a dead straight line in a space where the judge can clearly see how your horse moves. 

Perfect presentation

It would be rude to show up scruffy but don't go too mad getting your horse shiny for the main event.

It appears that judges don't really give you extra points for glittery hooves or perfect plaits.

Of course it does help with your overall presentation of your horse and can emphasise other right places for your overall confirmation score.

Get fit for action

The result you walk away from the ring with relies on you to perform as well as your horse.

So, while your getting him muscled up and trim for showing, be sure to give yourself a little TLC, too.

Train in the gym, go for regular power walks, run or workout at home. Being fit means that you'll have plenty of energy to perform at your best on the day, just like your horse.

Manners please

As well as your horse having good manners the judge wants to see that you have good manners too.

Keep in mind that they have been watching you and if you let yourself down when you think you aren't being watched, it could affect your whole day and your result. 

Be courteous, smile and always be kind to your horse or pony. 

Hone your halt

While it can be overlooked, the halt is your moment to shine but a lot of riders rush it.

Allow him to get square before you ride off.

This way you can see all the hard work you have put in by building muscle, washing and grooming.