August Monthly Exercise #3 – The Bend & Flex

This weeks exercise was extremely challenging to say the least. There was quite a mixed review regarding doing a flat work exercise or a jumping exercise, so I decided why not do one that benefits both!

As Dante progressed through the exercise I could see a huge improvement so hopefully you all will see the same with your horses at home.

Have a read below, & be sure to give it a go, it has been one of my favourites so far as it was quite challenging, but then again who doesn’t love a challenge!

What you will need: 

8 poles, 8 sets of wings & a clear arena once the exercise is set up.

Bend & flex-page-001


Setting up this exercise, I will admit it looked like it was going to be quite difficult. I set it with 1 stride between each fence, walking out the stride diagonally across as per the image below. Bend & flex 2-page-001

How I measure Dante’s strides – one stride is 8 human strides/footsteps (2,4,2), two stride double is 12 human strides/footsteps (2,4,4,2), three stride double is 16 human strides/footsteps (2,4,4,4,2)

Note: The 2 at beginning are for landing, and the 2 at the end are for take off, remember Dante is a big horse so these strides may vary for a smaller horse or pony.


What this exercises is good for:

  • Flexability
  • Control
  • Practicing tight turns into jumps, great for jump off practice
  • Flying changes
  • Accuracy into fences
  • Working on consistency in your horses rhythm

How To Ride This Exercise:

  1. Start off by warming up your horse as normal
  2. Have the exercise set up as ground poles. I started by looping Dante over sections of the exercise in walk, then I began doing it in the trot. Trotting down over the first loop, and repeating it until Dante became comfortable and was flowing nicely, only then did I put the full exercise together, still keeping everything in trot.
  3. Repeat the same as above in canter once you feel comfortable. Start by riding the first loop in canter, then as you progress put the full exercise together. You should still have the poles flat on the ground at this stage. I found it quite difficult to get the turns after the fences in canter, so a lot of practicing was done to focus on  controlling his pace & keeping a steady rhythm through out the turns, this was absolutely vital for a correct approach.
  4.  For more of a challenge, I put the four fences up to cross poles, I would suggest keeping the fences low enough for this exercise, I wouldn’t put them any higher than 70/80cm. The point is to improve your accuracy & turns before & after fences, having them too big will make it way too difficult & could result in your horse finding it extremely difficult to turn afterwards.
  5. Use as much of the arena that you can when you are riding your circles after the fences, give you horse as much space as you can.
  6. Once they went up into jumps, I did the same as above, I rode it in sections before adding everything together. Remember to look where you’re going, turning your body in the air in the direction you want your horse to go, this will assist him with his leg changes. Focus on using your body and leg to direct your horse instead of trying to pull at your horses mouth.
  7. Once you are happy enough with jumping sections of the exercise loop everything together. Don’t worry if you break into trot between fences, push your horse on, sit back tall after the fences and use your body & leg to bend your horse around the corners. I rode this exercise twice, once off the left & the right rein, leaving him on a good note once he completed it correctly.

Be sure to cool your horse down for at minimum 5 minutes after completing this exercise. For a horse that wouldn’t be used to using his body like that, it will be very challenging on them, and if you have a horse like Dante that is willing to keep going regardless of his fitness make sure to let them have a good stretch letting them walk off on a long rein.

I would  recommend having ground help with this exercise, a lot of readjustments may need to be made, and getting up & down off your horse can be quite painful!

I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on this weeks exercise, be sure to keep an eye out next Sunday to see what Orla & Coco have to offer!

Thanks for reading,



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