A stiff horse can be difficult to ride. They will fight your aids and lean into any pressure you apply. The good news is that every horse can soften with practice. By flexing your horse’s neck from side to side, you can increase their suppleness. This simple exercise will create a better horse!
Steps to Softening A Horse
The Goal: Your horse should be able to bend their neck and touch your shoe when you apply a slight amount of pressure to the reins. This exercise is done at a standstill in the saddle.
1. Hold the reins with one hand in the middle.
2. Slide your other hand down the side you want to flex and bring that hand to your hip.
3. Hold that pressure until your horse bends their neck toward you, touches your boot and stops moving their feet. Immediately release the rein and drop the pressure once they soften. A quick release is essential!
4. Repeat the exercise on the other side.
5. Gradually, the amount of pressure it takes to bend your horse to your boot should lighten. The goal is to pick up the rein with just two fingers and your horse reacts immediately.
This exercise can also be done on the ground and with or without a bit. It’s a good idea to practice it frequently, especially early on in the ride.
Make sure you also check out ‘10 Ways To Build Your Horse’s Topline‘.