Suppleness together with rhythm, is an essential aim of the preliminary training phase. Even if the rhythm is maintained, the movement cannot be considered correct unless the horse is working through its back and the muscles are free from tension.
Suppleness is a central theme throughout the schooling. It should never be neglected and should be constantly checked and reinforced.
Only if the horse is physically and mentally free from tension or constraint can it work with suppleness and use itself fully.
The horse’s joints should bend and straighten equally on both sides of its body and with each step or stride. The horse should convey the impression that it is putting its whole mind and body into its work.
Lack of suppleness can take many different forms, e.g. tightness in the back, severely agitated tail, rhythm faults, hind legs lacking activity, a tense and dry mouth and crookedness.
Indications of suppleness are:
• A content happy expression – freedom from anxiety.
• The elasticity of the steps – the ability to stretch and contract the musculature smoothly and fluently.
• A quiet mouth gently chewing the bit with an elastic contact.
• A swinging back with the tail carried in a relaxed manner.
• Soft and rhythmical breathing, showing that the horse is mentally and physically relaxed.
The best confirmation and proof of the suppleness is that when the reins are given, the horse stretches the neck downward and forward to the bit without losing rhythm or balance.

Leave a Reply