NEEDS MORE BEND
DRESSAGE JUDGE COMMENTS
Have you ever had this comment on your test sheet? This mistake can cost a lot of marks especially if repeated in other movements. Sometimes this can be due to a rider error and sometimes it can be that the horse is not supple enough for the movement.
A Training Problem
If the rider gets this comment specifically on one rein, it can mean that there is a training problem. One might be tempted to wave away this comment using the age-old excuse ‘well he is always stiffer on that rein’, however this attitude leads to ‘more of the same’ in terms of results and comments from the judges.
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As a rider could you be perpetuating the problem? Riders often have this perception of the horse having a 'good' rein and a 'bad' rein. The 'bad' rein is the one in which the horse does not flex to the inside, the 'good' rein the horse can flex to the inside very well.
The truth is that usually the horse is leaning on one shoulder most of the time, regardless of direction. So, on the rein that is good, the horse seems to flex well but is likely to be leaning onto the outside shoulder. The rider congratulates themselves on a good bend, however the moment they change the rein, they discover the outside shoulder the horse was leaning on, is now the inside shoulder… which they are still leaning on. This lean onto the inside shoulder prevents the rider from creating a good bend. The solution lies in helping the horse to move evenly through the shoulders.
At Dressage Training TV we teach that control of the shoulders and bend are two separate topics. The rider is first taught how to steer the horse through the shoulders. In fact at this point, the rider has already gone through our re-alignment training which puts them in the ideal position on the horse. Once you add turning into the equation riders often show asymmetry involving collapsing to one side etc, and this needs to be addressed for turning or bend to be effective.
Judges’ comments make a lot of assumptions, such as that the rider is correctly aligned, they are giving correct signals, and they are able to separate turning from bend.
If you would like help with bend, turning and to give your horse the very best chance then check out our foundational course ‘The How of Riding’. This course contains many of the missing links that help riders break-through through their plateaus. Even advanced riders can achieve greater success by revisiting foundational skills!
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