Favourite suppling exercises

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Rosie B
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Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Rosie B » Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:43 am

Good morning team,

Hopefully I won't be wearing out my new thread welcome with this one...

What are your favourite go-to suppling exercises that help you achieve a new level of throughness and connection? For me at the moment it's counter canter. Bliss is getting quite solid in counter canter now, and I find transitions from true to counter canter and back (through walk) all around the arena super helpful in really loosening him up and helping to improve the overall quality of everything. After some good counter canter he's more in front of the leg, softer and steadier in the contact, and straighter.

So - what are your go-tos? How often do you use them? At what point in your rides? What is the effect that the exercise produces?

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby kande50 » Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:09 pm

I've been stuck on sf/si to the left for years, because Sting never feels straight to me so whether I plan to or not, I always end up sliding back into sf/si left. I often lecture myself that he's always going to feel crooked because his body's crooked, so just accept it and move on, but apparently, that isn't an option for me.

The effect is that he does feel a little straighter after we work on si for awhile, but then of course I start worrying about whether it's a good idea to expect such a crooked horse to go around in what for him is si all the time, just so that I feel like he's straighter?

He feels good to the right (right front club), so maybe I should just go to the right more and forget about trying to get more bend to the left?

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Ryeissa » Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:30 pm

Halt transitions, sometimes with a half step rein back to raise the shoulder. Also a good rein back testes suppleness and willingness. This is more of a longitudinal aspect.

I do this in everywarmup at least once or twice. My horse also is a "go getter" so it's important that we work on waiting for me early on and not fling his legs in the walk. I don't want that big of a step as that leads to falling on the forehand.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Chisamba » Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:35 pm

It sounds really boring but circles and serpentine. To get the supple and connected, then we add on , like zig zag laterals in place of shallow serpentine, shoulder in or shoulder out. Travers and Renver etc. Kimba is still working on balance in counter canter so I envy your progress in cc

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Ponichiwa » Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:44 pm

I love serpentines. It's my go-to warmup sequence: walk/trot/canter in various sizes of serpentines up and down the arena. My barn's arena is about double the standard competition width, so I can fit a 4-petal cloverleaf set of 20m circles (my current obsession). I use them to test that I can keep the tempo and groundcover the same regardless of direction of travel or bend (sometimes I also counter-flex). You can do infinite variations as well; true canter/counter canter, trot/canter transitions within the serpentines, etc. It's Prozac for my spicy/difficult mare.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby piedmontfields » Wed Sep 05, 2018 1:21 pm

Great thread topics. I'm another serpentine fan + slaloming as mentioned in another post. I have a mentally tight horse and the curved lines are like a moving meditation for her. It is easy to do serpentines and slaloms in the warm-up.I generally find that longitudinal suppleness arrives easily after lateral suppling. As I say to Emi, "the reason we do shoulder in to renvers and repeat is that it is hard and it helps us!" Like you, Rosie, I also like the effects of counter canter--and I like to slalom the shoulders while in counter canter. *Everything* is better after that.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby StraightForward » Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:03 pm

One of the Ritter's exercises I've bee using with Kyra is CSI about halfway down the long side, change bend, ride a volte, then LY away from the wall. For Annabelle, she can do it without the CSI, otherwise it's too hard, even at the walk.

The other one that is good with her is riding two shallow loops, but staying HI when returning to the wall after the second loop. It really helps call out any failure to change bend.

With my lesson on Kyra last week, she had us riding canter SI on a square, alternating with Renver on a circle. It was more of a collecting exercise, but definitely suppling as well, especially for the back half of the horse.

For Annabelle, loops, serpentines and now 10m volte figure 8's in walk and small trot. I've also started backing her inhand on a circle, and doing Tristan Tucker's exercises, which are a lot like milling in-hand to get the legs to cross and the barrel to yield (she can't quite do the backwards pattern, hence the backing in circles). She is not a very naturally supple horse, which I guess makes sense, being half TB and half western pleasure QH. Not much bending required in racing or western pleasure.
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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby heddylamar » Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:41 pm

I do transitions, circles, serpentines, squares, and zig zags, with shoulder-in/out, haunches-in/out, and leg yield.

Thanks for the halt/rein back reminder, Ryeissa. I used to do that, but it's fallen out of my toolkit. After the last few rides, I think Maia would benefit from that.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Ryeissa » Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:04 pm

heddylamar wrote:I do transitions, circles, serpentines, squares, and zig zags, with shoulder-in/out, haunches-in/out, and leg yield.

Thanks for the halt/rein back reminder, Ryeissa. I used to do that, but it's fallen out of my toolkit. After the last few rides, I think Maia would benefit from that.

It checks quality, and it's essentially a "one stop shop" for everything we need in dressage. I prob do 10- 20 halt down trans min each session, then I move this towards collection, my horse is very fit though

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby tlkidding » Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:56 pm

For my upper level horse, I do all of the lateral work at the walk checking first the connection and suppleness through the neck, then through the body, then the response to the lateral aids. I do "show ring" lateral work (SI, HI, HO, HP) as well as asking for a few steps of extra body positioning (e.g., 4-track SI) if there is some stiffness or lack of response to lateral aid.

For less schooled horses or stiffer horses, I do 8-10 meter circles at the walk in both directions asking for bend and then letting the neck out and down while bent. Then we'll switch to counter bend on the circles. Then I'll ask for the bend and stretch while asking for the shoulders to move in or out and then move the haunches in and out.

I've found that doing the suppleness work at the walk in the warm up really shortens the amount of time it takes to achieve a supple, soft connection at the trot and canter. During the ride, if the trot or canter get stiff during schooling and I'm unable to fix it quickly at speed, I try to remember to go back to the walk to fix it.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Rosie B » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:00 pm

I'm finding this discussion super interesting - what works for some of you (who have identified having hotter type horses) would not work at all for me.

tlkidding - what types of horses do you find the walk warmup works with? Do you have any that are 'energy conservationists' that you employ this method with?

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Dresseur » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:06 pm

I have started to think about suppling a little differently. Basically, I want the horse loose and relaxed through the body so that he can answer my requests laterally and longitudinally without stiffening. But, I want the connection that feels like a little bit of positive tension so that the back feels strong underneath me. To that end, I start to think of SI, HI, R and HP as strengthening exercises that address bend and asymmetry in the body. Basically, I use them to foster the strength needed for collection and to make horses more ambidextrous. For suppling, I use a lot of forward and back - basically making the body into an accordion. Sometimes it's a little bit, sometimes it's between gaits - lots of transitions. And I use a lot of circles and serpentines for relaxation and as reminders to follow the rein.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Moutaineer » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:08 pm

We also use a lot of walk lateral work, including steep (brief) leg yields, shoulder in. haunches in, TOH etc. at the start of every ride to "oil the wheels." I'm looking for suppleness and swing through the loins and back. But these exercises all have to be accomplished with the horse decidedly in front of the leg, though, no mincing around (which I think might answer your question, Rosie. If you can't get a decent forward walk to start with then this is not the way to go--you'd maybe need to warm up to get a more forward thinking horse, and then go back to this.)

By the time we move up to trot, he's pretty loose and supple.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby tlkidding » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:50 pm

Rosie B wrote:I'm finding this discussion super interesting - what works for some of you (who have identified having hotter type horses) would not work at all for me.

tlkidding - what types of horses do you find the walk warmup works with? Do you have any that are 'energy conservationists' that you employ this method with?


I find this works with self-propelled and sluggish horses (I've not tried it with a "hot" horse). My horse is self-propelled but sneaks behind the leg throughout the ride when in collection. I make sure he's marching well forward, especially between the lateral exercises.

For a energy conservationist, realize that the walk will slow some doing the small circles and lateral work; however, my rule for the behind the leg horse is that if I request the neck position change (i.e., increase bend on the circle), he's not allowed to use that as an excuse to quit going forward. I also separate the goals a bit - for the horse who likes to be behind the leg, he will not put suppleness and IFOTL together right away. I start him with a walking hack in the field or arena on a long rein and he must march with my legs off. Then we do the small circles and lateral work. Then at the walk on a moderate rein length, we do some walk/trot/walk and other "easy" transitions where the first goal is response to the leg. Then I can combine the suppleness, connection, and forward requests and start our trot and canter warm up.

For any horse I ride, my rule is to walk at least 10 minutes before trotting, and I usually do 15 minutes. By checking the response to the forward leg and working on suppleness at the walk first, my trot and canter warm up is usually only 6-8 minutes of transitions, lateral work, and counter canter. Then we can take a quick walk break and move on to schooling specific movements or strengthening exercises. When I used to spend less time at the walk in the warm up, we'd be trotting and cantering for 10+ minutes trying to put the pieces together while using up energy we could have used working on harder things or I'd try to move into our "schooling" phase but still be dealing with issues of forwardness, suppleness, etc.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Tsavo » Wed Sep 05, 2018 6:32 pm

F/D/O
Moving the neck around in all gaits
Serps
Large walk on hills

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby khall » Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:27 pm

From Tsavo: TCT transition in SF
TCTCC transitions quarter line in arena (excellent for getting Rip tuned in to me) from Cedar
HI WT transitions (hard! but better now)
SI medium trot SI
RB! Finally Rip and I have a really good RB!!
Half steps
Letting reins slip and then back up to position, small trot and bigger trot (been a new focus for me lately, I really like it)

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Tsavo » Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:41 pm

That is Savoie's exercise.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Ryeissa » Wed Sep 05, 2018 10:00 pm

I like halt trot halt shoulder in.
Its hard!

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby heddylamar » Sat Sep 08, 2018 5:35 pm

Ryeissa wrote:
heddylamar wrote:I do transitions, circles, serpentines, squares, and zig zags, with shoulder-in/out, haunches-in/out, and leg yield.

Thanks for the halt/rein back reminder, Ryeissa. I used to do that, but it's fallen out of my toolkit. After the last few rides, I think Maia would benefit from that.

It checks quality, and it's essentially a "one stop shop" for everything we need in dressage. I prob do 10- 20 halt down trans min each session, then I move this towards collection, my horse is very fit though


The halt/rein back worked perfectly.

And I finally clued into why Maia was being such a pig under saddle this past week (and unusually Jekyll/Hyde the rest of the time) -- she's in season.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby mld02004 » Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:21 am

Don’t know if it has a more formal name, but a ribbon candy exercise W and T. It’s a half ten meter circle, then cross the centerline, then a few steps of leg yield into a new half ten meter circle and repeat down the arena. It’s more dynamic then a serpentine imo.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Chisamba » Tue Sep 11, 2018 3:36 am

It's my opinion that if you cannot get an energetic walk with your energy conservative horse, you probably dont really have it at trot or canter.

If I have a bit of a slug I spend at least ten minutes getting a very energetic walk.

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby kande50 » Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:57 pm

Something my instructor noticed was that I push with my seat when I'm trying to get more energy in the walk, so she had me still my seat and use the whip more. We worked on that for quite a while, and then when we started trot she noted that I don't do it in trot. And it's true that I don't push with my seat in trot, and didn't before we worked on it in walk. What was funny was that when she got on she started pushing with her seat in walk, because it works. :-)

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Re: Favourite suppling exercises

Postby Rosie B » Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:05 pm

Hah. Chisamba - you're probably right.

Kande - good point. I am sometimes guilty of that.


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