How do I know if my bend is correct?
Thank goodness we’re not able to run after you with a tape measure, but here’s a great way to help your riding and your coaching…
Put your horse on a circle and imagine the horse is on a big huge apple pie round silver baking dish.
There is a big rim around the edge where you can push the pastry in to give a nice crust. Let’s call that “dip” the CENTER of the rim, and there is an inside ring and an outside ring on the rim.
What the judge is looking for…
While the center of the bit is DEAD CENTRAL on the pie rim (not looking too much to the inside or outside)…Both INSIDE feet need to stay INSIDE the pie plate rim. Both OUTSIDE feet need to stay OUTSIDE the pie plate rim.
In other words…no cross over is permitted on a circle, as that shows the judge the horse is avoiding bend.
Four simple tests for yourself or your pupils…
- The Rider’s Head. Riding on the pretend “pie plate circle”, drop your inside ear, and watch what happens to the horse’s bend. Slowly slowly SLOWLY change and drop your outside ear lower than the inside…observe: what happens to your horse’s bend?
- The Rider’s Shoulders (Elbows). Still on our pretend “pie plate”…Drop your inside elbow lower & observe! Then SLOWLY SLOWLY drop your outside elbow and observe: what happens to your horse’s bend?
- The Rider’s Seat Bones. Still on the circle, double check that the horse’s bit is in the middle of the “pie plate rim”, the inside ring of the bit on the inside rim, and the outside rim of the bit on the outside rim, that you also have the inside feet on the inside (“IN” the pie), and the outside feet are on the outside (“OUTSIDE” the pie)….
THEN….try overweighting your inside seat bone, and after a few laps change it to your outside seat bone heavier… for most horses this is an amazing difference in bend.
- The Rider’s Feet. Turn your inside toe out on the circle (gently!). Then rebalance for a few circles, then turn your outside toe out.
If you turn your inside toe out some horses “jack knife”. If you turn your outside toe out some horses get wrong bend. So, a mistaken bump, or wobbly lower legs create very inconsistent, or even wrong, bend.
There are so many ways to fix these things that I’ve written a WHOLE CHAPTER on bend in my new book. Here is where you can find beta copies (prior to completion) of my book and can get MORE GREAT TIPS