Charlotte Dujardin’s tips for building suppleness with your horse

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A supple horse will be at ease in his movement and be better able to perform movements when schooling.

If your horse feels stiff, or goes better on one rein than the other, try Charlotte Dujardin's tips to help him feel more supple. 

Learn to love leg-yield

For Charlotte, suppleness in a horse is vital but it doesn’t develop all by itself. Instead it takes time and work to make a horse bend through his body, rib cage and neck.

To do this she’ll use a range of exercises including lateral school movements – starting with leg-yield.

“Although not a movement in a test, it is a useful exercise,” Charlotte explains. “Ride down the centreline and back to the outside track using leg-yield, by pushing your horse across with your leg.

"Try to keep the horse straight and ride with two reins and two legs, and keep thinking forwards.”

Try travers

Once the horse is comfortable doing leg-yield, Charlotte teaches travers.

The horse’s front stays on the track, his quarters move in off the track, and there’s a slight bend to the inside in the direction of travel.

She rides along the short side of the school and uses her inside leg to bend the horse round the corner while asking for a little flexion from the poll, so she can just see the inside eye, then explains, “As you come down the long side push the hip in with your outside leg, while keeping the rest of the horse straight on the track. It’s like leg-yield but down the wall.

“Practise on the three-quarter line too,” she advises, “so the horse doesn’t hang onto the wall and, once you’ve got the hang of that, put a bit of bend (to the inside) in.”