My mare's quite stiff in her neck, she finds it hard to bend both inside and outside, and on both reins, and she holds her head very low and straight and leans on my hands; she cannot hold herself in an outline in any way shape or form, I find it hard to turn because she just isn't supple enough and so leans and resists my hands. Are there any exercises I can do with her to lose the stiffness and make her more supple and less 'lean-y'??
Nereide is a British Dressage List 1 judge and trainer, and co-founder of the new affiliated dressage competition website 'Dressage Anywhere'
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Try not to focus too much on the neck, she needs to bend through her whole body. Maybe give this a go - Put her on a circle, open your inside hand quite wide and keep a firm but steady contact (make sure your arm moves with her mouth but never drops the contact), keep her quarters from falling out with your outside leg and push her rib-cage out with your inside leg. Then simply hold it on the circle (in walk to begin with then a steady trot) until she lets go. Gently squeezing and releasing your fingers on the inside reign should help just be sure not too move your whole hand at all, keep it wide and do not bring it back into the neck until she has loosened. You should feel her release, drop her head and soften to the contact. When she does this make sure you respond by softening as well, but do not completely drop the contact as she needs support. Very light taps with a schooling whip on the inside should help if she is ignoring your leg. This is a very passive, gradual, low stress exercise, it is simply a matter of calmly maintaining the aids until she gives in, and don't ask for too much, a little bend and softness is good then build on it each session. Hope this helps I have had the same problem with several horses!
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