Boosting suppleness in your horse is vital, but it doesn’t happen all by itself; it takes years of correct and consistent training to teach your horse to be supple to both left and right.

To do this, Charlotte Dujardin uses lateral work, starting with leg-yield.

Love leg-yield

Leg-yield is the first lateral movement I teach. This is where your horse moves forwards and sideways from your leg.

I often see riders riding this movement with bend in the neck, but all that happens is that your horse falls out through his shoulder. That isn’t leg-yield.

What you’re looking for is flexion through the poll away from the direction of movement, and your horse moving from your leg, up and over.

Try to keep him straight and ride with two reins and two legs. Keep thinking forwards.

Try travers

Once your horse is comfortable doing leg-yield, you can move on to travers, which improves suppleness and creates bend.

In travers, your horse’s shoulders stay on the track while his quarters move in off the track. There’s also a slight bend to the inside in the direction of travel.

To ride travers down the long side of your arena, use your inside leg to create the bend as you ride the corner off the short side.

At the same time, ask for a little flexion from the poll, so you can just see your horse’s inside eye.

As you come down the long side, push his hip in with your outside leg, keeping the rest of him straight on the track. Make sure that your weight is to the inside so you’re not sitting against your horse.

If you can ride travers on a straight line, you can ride half-pass — it’s just travers on a diagonal line.

For more of Charlotte’s advice, see the full article in our latest issue.

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