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Dressage: Bending a Horse Through the Rib Cage

Submitted by member: Steph

How do I get my horse to bend off my leg and through the rib cage?

Answer by Verena Mahin

Walk pirouettes and Traver (haunches in) are great exercises to improve  suppleness and bend in the rib cage. It’s important to remember that whenever you work these two exercises in particular, it is crucial that you use your outside aids and inside aids correctly to achieve a successful result.

In both the Traver and walk pirouette your outside rein and leg are responsible to keep the horse reacting correctly away from the leg, and half halting effectively from the rein, to keep your line of travel. The inside leg asks for bend and continued forward momentum as the inside rein asks for suppleness and flexion. Once your horse is reacting correctly from all your aids, these are two great exercises to touch on every day to further improve bend and suppleness in the rib cage.

Video Recommendation:


Suppleness – Unlocking the Gaits
Verena Mahin
A supple horse who is relaxed and whose physical and mental state indicate he enjoys his work is, of course, ideal in any discipline and especially dressage. A tense, stiff or rigid horse is unable to use his body effectively and can’t properly demonstrate rhythm, relaxation, connection, impulsion, straightness or collection. Join Verena Mahin as she shares her favorite exercises to attain a greater degree of suppleness that subsequently allows the horse to move with bigger, more expressive gaits.
Running Time:  32 minutes and 44 seconds

View Video

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Verena Mahin

Verena is the owner and trainer at the California based VS Dressage Inc. She has had many successes at FEI level, competing and coaching through Grand Prix. In 2011 she coached two riders representing Puerto Rico at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Verena clinics all over the country. Learn more about her and how to book a clinic at:

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