Posted on May 10, 2013
by Suzanne Drnec as told by Les Vogt A supple horse is flexible, willing, and able to perform the work asked for by his rider. He is not stiff, rigid, or sluggish, but responds instantly to his rider's subtle cues. Just as a swimmer has a pre-race routine to prepare their body and mind for activity, and as a ballerina stretches her muscles at the barre before she dances, your equine athlete should be mentally and physically warmed up- called suppling- before he performs. “Every horse will benefit from increased suppleness. A supple, responsive horse will learn easier and perform better than a stiff or rigid horse. ” WHAT IS SUPPLING? Suppling is teaching your horse- dressage horse, jumper, reiner, or pleasure riding horse- to yield to the pressure of rein, leg, or body weight. Suppleness is the opposite of resistance, and produces maximum performance with a minimum of effort from the rider. A supple, responsive horse is the basis for all horsemanship. WHO SHOULD SUPPLE THEIR HORSE? Every horse will benefit from increased suppleness. A supple, responsive horse will learn easier and perform better than a stiff or rigid horse. Suppleness increases communication between horse and rider. HOW DO YOU SUPPLE YOUR HORSE? *Always supple your horse one side at a time. *Work one rein or press with one leg gently, until your horse yields. *Don't pull directly back on both reins, or apply pressure with both legs. *The instant your horse yields to rein or leg pressure, release the pressure as his reward. WHY DO YOU SUPPLE YOUR HORSE? A supple horse is easily guided through any maneuver. He respects his rider and allows the rider to position the horse's body and legs for maximum performance. A supple horse is a good student! WHEN SHOULD YOU SUPPLE YOUR HORSE? Every time you ride any horse, begin with suppling exercises. Search for and eliminate resistance to prepare your horse to think, learn, and excel. Return to suppling if your horse feels stiff or resistant, even in the midst of other training. Suppling reestablishes communication with your horse.