Many instructors consider Arabians too "hot," or on the fast and frisky side, for use as school
horses. Watergate is unusual, however. He's especially well behaved and calm, and he knows
the class routine better than most instructors. He's a star among school horses.
Although on the smallish side, in the field he's definitely a herd leader. (He's one of the horses
that terrorizes Tiki). Another horse had better not try to eat his pile of hay.
Under saddle, Watergate moves forward easily, but he demands that riders give him very clear
Bending the Horse
Bending is one of the most basic skills for effectively controlling the horse. If your horse doesn't
bend in a corner, he becomes unbalanced. You'll probably get away with it 9 out of 10 times, 99
out of 100, or even 999 out of 1,000, but sooner or later you and your unbalanced horse are
going to fall. So fix the problem before it happens: Practice bending the horse until it becomes
Left- and Right-Handed Horses
Be aware that a horse may be left or right handed and that almost all horses are stiff on one side.
The only way to fix this is by exercising the stiff side.
In bending your horse, how you use your legs, and intensity with which you use them, and your
timing are all important. (You don't want the horse to speed up every time you use your leg).
To bend your horse, apply your inside leg at the girth. In this context, "girth" has nothing to do with
where the actual saddle strap is; it's where your legs should fall when you're properly balanced.
Because horses move away from pressure, your horse should move the middle part of his body --
the part you're sitting on -- away from your inside leg. At the same time, his head should be
looking to the inside, but only just enough for you to see the corner of his inside eye.
Place your outside leg back, behind the girth, as a guard to keep the horse from moving his entire
body away from the inside leg. This is important. Horses are also taught to move laterally with leg
pressure. Moving your outside leg back will let your horse know you want him to bend.
At the same time, close one hand and open the other to a corresponding degree. Think of it as
shaping the horse to the degree of the turn. No one can tell you how much to pull on this hand or
that; it depends on the horse, and you've got to feel this yourself. Remember, though, that
whenever you use your inside leg, the pressure is received in your outside hand.
Before continuing, review the aids you use to bend the horse.
Aids to Bending the Horse
1. Position your inside leg at the girth (this is your active leg).
2. Position your outside leg behind the girth.
3. Sit on your inside seat bone.
4. Turn your shoulders toward the bend and to the degree of bend.
5. Create the bend with your inside hand, and give equally with your
Complex? Yes. Important? Yes. You must understand this concept. You are trying to keep the
horse upright and square on all four feet so he doesn't slip. The idea is that all four feet have
equal weight above them at all times. You do not want to be riding a horse that's careening
around a corner with the only bearing surface being the side of his shoes or hooves. Think about
why trains use connected boxcars instead of one long car. They can't lean around a corner,
because they would fall over. It's the joints between cars that get trains around corners. Your
horse is jointed, too, and you must bend him to get him around the corner.
|Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156 fax: 301-421-9049