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.
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