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Trainer’s Tip Tuesday

Align the spine. A common conversation I have is getting the horse's neck straight in front of them. We often mistake flexion at the poll and end up with too much flexion throughout the entire neck. When this happens, the horse weights the opposite front leg (flexing left, they weight right front leg) and swing the outside hind leg away from the flexion (flexed left, haunches swinging right). The horse is trying its best to align their spine to compensate for the over flexion. The neck must act as a counter balance for the hind quarters. When the neck is overflexed, the hind quarters are not stable. Instability often has the rider attempting to pull the inside rein in an effort to gain control but this only creates more flexion. A downhill spiral is created. The horse is unbalanced and trying to stay upright so they either rush or become difficult to move forward. Over time being ridden over flexed will create soundness issues, which will create pain and behavioral issues. We need to try to keep the neck in front of us and encourage the majority of the flexion a the poll. That is where our seat and leg come in. We must straighten what is behind us and under us and quit trying to fix everything through our hand.

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