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Article Index

Approach & Retreat
Buying a Horse

Common Sense on the Trail
Curb Strap Tying Info.

Focus & Time
Ground Driving
Ground Manners
Ground Tying
In the Saddle
Introducing a New Horse

Lateral Movement
Mecate Reins
One Rein Stop

The Process
Progress Strings
Punishment & Correction



Round/Square Pen

Rope Skills
Slobber Straps
Training Home
Training Stick
Trailer Loading
Trailer Unloading
Tying from Above
Tying a rope halter



Bending is a term to describe the range of motion and resistance in the muscles of the horse. Bending your horse is an easy exercise with huge benefits that you begin to see almost instantly. Bending is one of those things that you could do every day for an hour with your horse and you would never overdo it. There are entire books written on this subject. To get a horse that is soft, supple, and carries itself with collection, the horse needs to bend correctly. You need to be able to bend your horse in many different ways. These are the basics:

bending pictureBend at the poll (the atlas joint that connects the last vertebrae to the skull)





bending pictureBend at the neck to the left and right.




bending pictureBend through the body to the left
and right.





A horse is going to bend naturally, but the "average" horse is going to need some help to realize their potential. Horses are athletes. Think about world class runners – they stretch before they exercise to loosen muscles and increase range of motion. This concept carries over to the horse too. If you were satisfied with limited range of motion and the resistance in your horse, you wouldn’t be reading this, you’d go to the beach and rent a horse for an hour.

A horse is going to bend better to one side than the other. The left side of the horse is usually the "easy" side. You’ll notice that when you ask for a bend in the horse, it will probably brace itself and resist. Your responsibility is to work through this resistance until the horse bends softly. This may not happen overnight, but with consistent work you will get results.

Before you can begin side passes, leg yielding or asking you horse to carry itself with collection, you need to have a horse that can bend softly without resistance. These exercises can help get you there. Don’t start out by asking your horse too much. Start small and work your way up.  Begin with 5 seconds and work your way up to 30 seconds.

  • Bend at the poll
  • Bend the neck to the left
  • Bend the neck to the right
  • Bend the body to the left
  • Bend the body to the right.

Horses that have suffered injuries often have difficulty bending. If you suspect an injury, don’t force your horse to bend – it may be resistant due to the injury.

Next Concept: Tying From Above


There is some risk involved in horse training for both you and the horse. Horses can cause serious injury. Be sensible and don’t attempt anything that is outside your comfort level. This information is intended to illustrate how we apply our training techniques, you are responsible for using this information wisely. If you don’t feel comfortable with your abilities or an exercise, don’t do it! Seek advice or assistance from a professional horse trainer. Stay on the "high side of trouble".

Natural Horse Supply Training Information, (c) 1999 Natural Horse Supply. All rights reserved. Duplication of any material  prohibited without express written permission. This prohibition is not intended to extend to personal non-commercial use, including sharing with others for safety and learning purposes, provided this copyright notice is attached and you have written permission. E-mail to submit comments or request reproduction permission.


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