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How to Make Your Hunter More Supple

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Submitted by member: Karla

I would like some ideas on collecting and suppling a hunter.  Lateral flexing for loosening up the neck. The best way to engage the hind end to avoid the horse getting strung out and heavy. How much rein contact one should use? Do you recommend special bits for training purposes to keeping a horse “light” in his front end? Thanks!

Answer by Julie Winkel

Hunters need flatwork to be educated, elastic and supple—just as any other horse in any other discipline. The basis for suppling a horse laterally is to make them straighter. Lateral exercises include shoulder-in, haunches-in, bending, as well as leg-yielding. These movements should not be drilled into a horse, but used in regular flatwork to warm up and school your hunter before jumping or competing. The reason it is so important to have a straight horse is because you want your horse to leave the ground with an even push from behind for optimum quality and scope. So flatwork and lateral exercises are key.

Equally as important are longitudinal exercises for educating a horse. The hunter must be able to open and close his stride without sacrificing balance. This flatwork consists of shortening the stride without losing impulsion, as well as lengthening the stride without falling on the forehand. A light forehand IS NOT achieved with harsher bits! It’s all about the rider learning to create a better balance through use of the legs. Make sure you use your seat and leg to close the back door as well as the side doors before going to your hands when asking your hunter to collect his stride. Be sure to soften the contact but not abandon the horse’s mouth when asking for a lengthening of stride.

Hunters should be shown both under saddle and over fences on light contact. Your hunter should carry himself in a natural, uphill balance, looking through the bridle with his nose carried in front of the vertical.

The more educated your horse is on the flat, the more invisible your aids can be while hunting around a course with effortless style. Good luck and I hope I answered your questions!

Video Recommendations:

exercises to shorten and lengthen your horses stride

Shortening And Lengthening Exercises Over Jumps
Julie Winkel
Join Julie Winkel & her students as they demonstrate exercises designed to shorten & lengthen the horse’s stride within lines. Julie discusses strategies to execute lines that present different types of distance challenges. Practice of these exercises provides additional benefits that include improved rider/horse communication and sharpening of the rider’s eye.
Running Time:  27 minutes and 19 seconds

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Fundamentals of Flatwork - Part 2 - Intermediate - Bernie Traurig

Fundamentals of Flatwork – Part 2 – Intermediate (Chapter 2E – Lateral Suppleness)
Bernie Traurig
If you have the Basic level down, you and your horse are ready for more of Bernie’s proven supplemental training techniques. In the Intermediate level, you’ll learn how to put the polish on your performance by blending these potent methods into your everyday training program. You will learn how to build on the fluency with which you and your horse have come to communicate. For most horses, mastering this level will be sufficient to perform well in any show ring.
Running Time:  59 minutes and 6 seconds

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advanced fundamentals of flatwork for your horse

Advanced Chapter 4 – Lateral Exercises – FREE Video
Bernie Traurig
In this excerpt from the Advanced section of Fundamentals of Flatwork Bernie shows us his favorite lateral exercises he finds particularly useful in the jumping sport that you can incorporate into your schooling program.
Running Time:  2 minutes and 23 seconds

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Julie Winkel

Julie Winkel has been a licensed Hunter, Equitation, Hunter Breeding and Jumper judge since 1984. She has officiated at prestigious events such as Devon, Harrisburg, Washington International, Capital Challenge, The Hampton Classic and Upperville Horse Shows. She has designed the courses and judged the ASPCA Maclay Finals, The USEF Medal Finals and The New England Equitation Finals.

For more information, visit her website: www.mwstables.com

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