Introducing our newest Contributor, Windy Griffith!
Windy Griffith is a Two Time Reserve World Champion Barrel Racer and Pole Bender. She is a professional trainer and clinician with almost 20 years of experience. Her mission is to help others reach their own goals in competition and horsemanship.
Learn more by following her at Rebel Barrel Horses on Facebook!
Flexing - Why Do We Do It?
Contributed by: Windy Griffith
If you have ever watched or read anything on horse training you have probably heard of the term “flexing”. Most clinicians or trainers will explain how to “flex” your horse from side to side and at the poll. Typically, this training technique is to gain more control over a horse that does not have a proper handle or is having a behavior issue. If you have tried this with your own horse, you probably used it to stop the movement of your horse’s feet to gain control of them.
Now that you have mastered the flexing, you may ask, "What else is there?"
You may find yourself wondering how the professional's horse moves differently than your own and why that is. The professionals may look more controlled have smoother movement with less effort than what you have gained with your own horse. This is because they have taken the very basic step of flexing a horse to the next step by adding forward movement to the flexing technique.
In the beginning, you wanted to use flexing to stop the movement of your horse's feet or redirect their energy to a more positive state. Now, try adding forward movement and creating “collection”. This is why their horse always seemed to be doing exactly what they want them to do!
Try to make it simple for yourself to build on your own skill. By starting at a walk, ask your horse to stay moving forward while slightly flexing your horse at their poll. Once your horse gives and bends their head down to release any pressure from their bit/hackamore, you in return release the flex and walk a few more steps before asking again. Then, once your horse starts to realize what you're asking, build to more flex (meaning: the horse’s position of their head lowers towards the ground and their neck is slightly more arched). Once you have achieved the desired softness at a walk, challenge yourself and horse at other gates using the same methods. You can also move in circles using the same principle idea of flexing and adding movement.