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Starting a horse, do many of you teach lateral flexion before mounting/riding?

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    Starting a horse, do many of you teach lateral flexion before mounting/riding?

    Hi all I'm going through ground work with my 3 year old and I wondered how many of you always teach them lateral flexion (of the neck) before mounting? I am and have been told its critical however it's taking some time to get right, some days hes softer than others and sometimes gets abit antsy about it, though I am careful to release as soon as he gives. Do you recommend always keeping their nose turned to you when mounting the first few times also? Thank you x

    #2
    No, I don't. I spend a month or two ground driving, including out on trails. My youngsters know whoa, go, and steering very well, wearing a saddle before I get on.

    In general, I don't like excessive lateral flexion, as I feel it makes a rubber-necked horse. I want them to "follow" the rein, but I don't pull the nose to my knee.

    First time sitting on one is usually belly up in a stall with a holder, walking small circles. Then out in a round pen or small paddock.

    I start TBs, so admittedly my end goals are a bit different than western started horses.
    A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.
    ? Albert Einstein

    ~AJ~

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Rosie8888 View Post
      Hi all I'm going through ground work with my 3 year old and I wondered how many of you always teach them lateral flexion (of the neck) before mounting? I am and have been told its critical however it's taking some time to get right, some days hes softer than others and sometimes gets abit antsy about it, though I am careful to release as soon as he gives. Do you recommend always keeping their nose turned to you when mounting the first few times also? Thank you x
      We never did, but watched many mount like that, not only on colts, but all the time and grown horses.

      It doesn't make sense, as you are pulling the horse in and if unbalanced, it's behind will swing away from you, making getting on harder than if, as in standard English mounting, the outside rein is a bit shorter and so, if the horse moves, it will be into you, making your mounting effort easier, not harder.

      I think whatever you are used to doing, if you are the kind that manages more on cruise control for some behaviors, that is what works best for you.

      We try with colts, since they will have other handlers and riders over a lifetime, to teach them to listen and respond to any we may ask.
      This way horses also learn not to anticipate, but really listen when doing things with humans.

      While repetition helps with some behaviors, we should also teach to be flexible to other.

      Flexing with a horse standing there is not really a good idea, as you are disuniting the horse, teaching it to move it's head only, not in concert with it's body, something you may rarely need a horse to do in the ways we use horses.
      Is ok to teach that rarely, but in general, you don't want a horse to figure that and make it an evasion.
      You can see how easy that moving the neck and not the body can become such watching school horses, beginners pulling on one rein, horse moving head around nicely but not turning, keep going straight.

      When we used to work on the ground, we would gently teach a colt to "double".
      We were teaching it to respond to any light tug, not pull, much less steady pull, just a little asking light tug and release of the rein or leadrope in such a way the horse would respond by lifting it's back, getting it's hindered planted or moving a bit forward and using it's whole body to turn around.

      That taught them to any hint of a tug meaning you collect and move critical skill for a riding horse that is to become an athlete.
      Flexing by only turning it's head around with a horse standing there defeats that purpose, why it was done very rarely and for a special purpose, like if a horse was easily learning to give but resisting, generally the handler's fault that, was not asking correctly for that horse to understand.

      Hope that is clear, not too muddled.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by EventerAJ View Post
        No, I don't. I spend a month or two ground driving, including out on trails. My youngsters know whoa, go, and steering very well, wearing a saddle before I get on.

        In general, I don't like excessive lateral flexion, as I feel it makes a rubber-necked horse. I want them to "follow" the rein, but I don't pull the nose to my knee.

        First time sitting on one is usually belly up in a stall with a holder, walking small circles. Then out in a round pen or small paddock.

        I start TBs, so admittedly my end goals are a bit different than western started horses.
        Ditto! I do much of the same. I care that they know whoa, go and steering before I get on and are wearing full tack without issue. I start welsh cobs and welsh cob crosses mostly but have worked with other breeds as well. I don't really care or focus on what discipline they're going to end up in when it comes to starting/backing them. For me the basics of survival for us both are the same. Once they adjust and are used to a rider on board, moving forward from the leg, that is when I start to focus more on teaching them how to carry themselves as appropriate for the level of training they're at (baby, baby green) and where they're going to be directed but to be honest I pretty much use dressage basics to train them all at least in the beginning. The key for me their first year once we've set sail successfully is exposure, exposure, exposure which I usually started long before the saddle ever was placed. I've never had trouble introducing lateral flexion a bit later when I feel they understand the aforementioned well. The ONLY horses I've had challenges with lateral flexion were horses started by someone else or (though really the same point) the many horses I've been asked to take on that come from a driving (only/mostly) background.
        Ranch of Last Resort

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Rosie8888 View Post
          Hi all I'm going through ground work with my 3 year old and I wondered how many of you always teach them lateral flexion (of the neck) before mounting? I am and have been told its critical however it's taking some time to get right, some days hes softer than others and sometimes gets abit antsy about it, though I am careful to release as soon as he gives. Do you recommend always keeping their nose turned to you when mounting the first few times also? Thank you x
          If lateral flexions and lateral work generally are going to be part of your early training work then you can start these before riding. Our program uses these in very specific ways to start lateral work in hand and under saddle at the walk very early. If you don't have a coherent program within which you are doing this, then it's pointless, and obviously many disciplines don't include this work. It sounds to me like you are not in a program that has a real progression set out, so there's probably no real use.

          What are you hoping to accomplish?

          We like our horses to know shoulder in and leg yield on the ground at a walk, to be able to walk with a slight flexion, and to move the head calmly in response to the bit before we get on. Early riding would include leg yield and counter bend circles at the walk. Obviously some horses have the physical ability to do this effortlessly and just need to learn cues while others really need to build the balance and coordination. We continue inhand work after the horse is going under saddle too.

          I can't see turning the horse's head when mounting. I would however always have somebody holding the horse and helping on the ground.

          Comment


            #6
            I see this will "colt starters" who would rather (or even encourage) the horse to circle them while they mount, rather than risk them bolting off.

            I have no interest in getting on a horse that I think will bolt. My technique has been to teach them the aids as well as I can from the ground, and teach them to "ground tie"/stand in the arena while I move around them. I also find their favourite itchy spot, so I can give them scratches/reward while I sit on them the first few times. When I first get on, I do it in the indoor arena, fairly near the exit gate, with the thought that if they get nervous they will likely just walk the 10 meters to the safety of the exit, rather than bolt off. I don't have someone holding as I want to make sure the horse is aware of me, but I can see the merit of both systems.

            I am not comfortable with using flexion for early mounting as I also feel it puts them off balance, reduces their ability to see what is happening, and I think it is done by people who haven't bothered to do proper prep work. I will use flexing to the offside for a horse who has been allowed/encouraged to walk off while the rider is mounting though, and who has learned to walk off as soon as a foot touches the stirrup. I really hate that.
            Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

            Comment

              Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by CHT View Post
              I see this will "colt starters" who would rather (or even encourage) the horse to circle them while they mount, rather than risk them bolting off.

              I have no interest in getting on a horse that I think will bolt. My technique has been to teach them the aids as well as I can from the ground, and teach them to "ground tie"/stand in the arena while I move around them. I also find their favourite itchy spot, so I can give them scratches/reward while I sit on them the first few times. When I first get on, I do it in the indoor arena, fairly near the exit gate, with the thought that if they get nervous they will likely just walk the 10 meters to the safety of the exit, rather than bolt off. I don't have someone holding as I want to make sure the horse is aware of me, but I can see the merit of both systems.

              I am not comfortable with using flexion for early mounting as I also feel it puts them off balance, reduces their ability to see what is happening, and I think it is done by people who haven't bothered to do proper prep work. I will use flexing to the offside for a horse who has been allowed/encouraged to walk off while the rider is mounting though, and who has learned to walk off as soon as a foot touches the stirrup. I really hate that.
              Thanks, yes I can see what you mean, it is helpful to people who think the horse will bolt off etc, but better not to get on one in the first place who you think will!. I do alot of laying over him, without trying to flex his head or hang tight and he will now stand quietly at the block to let me on, however I have, let him walk forward slowly when im settled over him as I was advised it helps in order to stop them feeling "trapped" in the initial stages? Hes good with long lining, waiting at the block, tying, ground excersises like yielding the hid quarters, backing up, change of direction from a suggestion etc. Totally see how it would put him off balance to flex while getting on,

              Comment

                Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                If lateral flexions and lateral work generally are going to be part of your early training work then you can start these before riding. Our program uses these in very specific ways to start lateral work in hand and under saddle at the walk very early. If you don't have a coherent program within which you are doing this, then it's pointless, and obviously many disciplines don't include this work. It sounds to me like you are not in a program that has a real progression set out, so there's probably no real use.

                What are you hoping to accomplish?

                We like our horses to know shoulder in and leg yield on the ground at a walk, to be able to walk with a slight flexion, and to move the head calmly in response to the bit before we get on. Early riding would include leg yield and counter bend circles at the walk. Obviously some horses have the physical ability to do this effortlessly and just need to learn cues while others really need to build the balance and coordination. We continue inhand work after the horse is going under saddle too.

                I can't see turning the horse's head when mounting. I would however always have somebody holding the horse and helping on the ground.
                Hello and thanks, no your right I'm not in a specific programme that you mention, I'm backing my 3 year old, hes pretty good with everything else I can think of that needs doing ground work wise, it's just that I was following a trainer online and he states its very important especially to keep the bend while getting on the first few times. My youngster seems alot happier just waiting patiently at the block and waiting while I lay over him but then (because iv let him I guess) he always ambles away slowly. I was told I should allow this to prevent him feeling trapped. I haven't yet had someone hold his head or anything for me but the wandering off I'm starting to wonder if I should start discouraging that now? Hes easy to gently stop.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Rosie8888 View Post

                  Thanks, yes I can see what you mean, it is helpful to people who think the horse will bolt off etc, but better not to get on one in the first place who you think will!. I do alot of laying over him, without trying to flex his head or hang tight and he will now stand quietly at the block to let me on, however I have, let him walk forward slowly when im settled over him as I was advised it helps in order to stop them feeling "trapped" in the initial stages? Hes good with long lining, waiting at the block, tying, ground excersises like yielding the hid quarters, backing up, change of direction from a suggestion etc. Totally see how it would put him off balance to flex while getting on,
                  Yes, my first "ride" is getting on and just sitting there. If they get bored and walk off (because to them I have disappeared), I just go with it, and usually we wander to the out-gate where I then get off.
                  Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                  Comment

                    Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by CHT View Post

                    Yes, my first "ride" is getting on and just sitting there. If they get bored and walk off (because to them I have disappeared), I just go with it, and usually we wander to the out-gate where I then get off.
                    Haha yes they must think we have disappeared in the early stages, mine drifts down to the gate too, when do you start stopping him walking off on his own? Thank youx

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I want a horse to stand straight to be mounted. That said, I also want to have someone experienced head a young/green horse when they are being mounted.

                      I do A LOT of long lining. In the method that I use for lining a horse, I want them to bend in the direction they are going, from nose to tail. I am not lining the horse's head, which is what happens with some approaches. I also want them to move from pressure, so that turns on the forehand, etc. are easy to teach once under saddle. I basically build what I will be riding from the ground, and when I get on , I expect most of the buttons to be installed, or easily accessed.

                      When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou
                      www.americansaddlebredsporthorse.net
                      http://www.asbsporthorse.blogspot.com/

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I don’t. I personally find it hard to get “flexion” without some forward momentum

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I have in the past, mostly because it led quite easily into a one reined stop which was quite helpful for me. But I also had my start in Western circles. I still did all the prep before even thinking about working on mounting, but I learned the hard way that sometimes things still happen and its much easier (and safer) to stop a freaked out horse with its head turning in toward you than away from you. Tbh, having the outside rein shorter while mounting makes no sense to me, seems like it would be so much easier for the horse to keep freaking out and cause a real wreck. Maybe if you are able to hop on real fast and ride it out, but I have no desire for that.

                          I don't like flexing all the way to where they are touching their nose to their side, though. Just a bit of lateral flexion has always worked for me. You just have to keep in mind later on that flexion in the neck =/= bend through the body.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Ok, the flexions being discussed here are not at all what I do or know about. I can't see pulling a horse's head around to his side for mounting because you are almost guaranteeing he is going to fall away from you.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I don't. I HATE that practice!!! It is not that hard to teach a horse to stand for mounting. My babies learn how to stand long before I get on them the first time
                              Wouldst thou like the taste of butter ? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

                              Comment


                                #16
                                I wouldn't think of getting on a horse that hadn't learned to stand and wait, and then I'd be sure he was able to stand while I leaned over him on the mounting block. I think stand and wait is pretty much the first step in your basic groundwork as well.

                                It is normal for a horse to maybe take one step to rebalance as you mount. I would want that behaviour minimized as soon as possible though.

                                I can visualize someone running a horse in circles while they mount but other than at the chuck wagon races it's unnecessary and dangerous and bad horsemanship.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  I am closest to EventerAJ's method. With baby race horses when they're standing in tack in the stall, I face them and hook my thumbs in the bit and apply gentle pressure; immediately release and praise when they give. Then I stand by their shoulder, facing forward, apply gentle pressure on one rein and immediately release and praise when they give to the side. I don't care it they take a step toward me, and if they get stuck, I'll ask them to walk forward and repeat the exercise. I'm not looking for anything complicated, I just want them to understand giving to pressure. I pretty much use the same methods with non race horses - anything more sophisticated than I've just described is best done from the saddle so you can include forward motion and leg/seat/weight aids.

                                  I made an exception once when I was leasing a beautiful facility without a ring, had a 3 year old breaker and an OTTB to restart and only a 20 acre pasture to work in. I long lined the heck out of those two; because I *really* wanted to make sure I had brakes and steering installed before getting on. But I was *just* worried about basic brakes and steering; I didn't worry about lateral flexion until I was riding them.

                                  Just my 02; your mileage may vary.
                                  Last edited by McGurk; Jul. 27, 2020, 04:51 PM.
                                  The plural of anecdote is not data.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    No. It's overused and nowadays an abused practice.

                                    I spend a little bit of time teaching the horse how to soften to the bit laterally before I go and get on for the first time, but it's a far cry different from lateral flexions for the sake of lateral flexions. You'll see a lot of NH guys swinging their horse's necks around back and forth when they are young - it's a bastardized version of teaching the horse to yield to pressure and usually taken to the excess.

                                    I want my horse *thinking* about me when I go to get on, but I don't need his nose turned towards me. If anything, this tends to put the horse off balance to the point where when you do go to swing on, they have the kick their hind end away to stay standing...and then we thinking we need to keep their nose to us every time we mount because the horse "won't stand". *facepalm*
                                    Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Well OP I just bought (yesterday) an unstarted 3 year old. He's had a little work in hand but that's it. We'll see if my methods still hold true He's a pretty sensible, people-oriented cookie so I think we'll be good (......better be it's a B'day present to myself and I'll be turning 57 in two weeks). I don't bounce like I used to but fortunately for me I've not been challenged too often if I put the time into the appropriate ground work and build their confidence and trust. I've owned two who had past demons that did test my limits; but out of the number I've started that's not too bad. Turning will be installed before mounting but no lateral flexions until way on down the road and I insist that they stand and be straight and still when mounted. To be honest this guy is no where near done filling out and he's currently a bit narrow. I wouldn't want for him to be turning (as in lateral flexions), bracing or, worse, questioning his own balance until his growthy phase is a bit more 'finished'. A one rein stop for safety is an entirely different thing and should be used/employed when needed but I don't find I need it often if they're sensible and I don't over face them. Good luck with your project.
                                      Ranch of Last Resort

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                                        If lateral flexions and lateral work generally are going to be part of your early training work then you can start these before riding. Our program uses these in very specific ways to start lateral work in hand and under saddle at the walk very early. If you don't have a coherent program within which you are doing this, then it's pointless, and obviously many disciplines don't include this work. It sounds to me like you are not in a program that has a real progression set out, so there's probably no real use.

                                        What are you hoping to accomplish?

                                        We like our horses to know shoulder in and leg yield on the ground at a walk, to be able to walk with a slight flexion, and to move the head calmly in response to the bit before we get on. Early riding would include leg yield and counter bend circles at the walk. Obviously some horses have the physical ability to do this effortlessly and just need to learn cues while others really need to build the balance and coordination. We continue inhand work after the horse is going under saddle too.

                                        I can't see turning the horse's head when mounting. I would however always have somebody holding the horse and helping on the ground.
                                        This is my practice as well, and I'm 95% sure the kind of flexions Scribbler and I do aren't quite the same as the nose to boot style that most people here envision when they hear "flexion."

                                        Never would use them in conjunction with mounting though. It's not hard to teach a horse that mounting is no big deal, so long as you've got the right energy when you're getting on.

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