Flexion at the Poll
Learn lunging by Babette Teschen
No bend without flexion!
In order to bend along the whole spine the horse needs a flexible poll which can bend to the inside, as we can see here with Dalia:
No flexion – no bend!
Fault #1: Overbending the neck
Instead of correctly giving at the poll, many horses just overbend their neck to the inside, like you can see here with Dalia. She answers the signal from the lunge by overbending her neck, but her four legs remain unchanged on a straight trajectory.
Fault #2: Tilting the head
Another typical fault is tilting the head instead of flexing correctly. This fault is often not recognized right away. You can see it clearly in this photo of Dalia.
When tilting the head the poll is twisted and a continous soft bend is impossible. Dalia’s ears are not level, her inner ear is lower that the outer. The nose points to the outside. This is not correct flexion!
The Key Exercise: Leading in Position
At first, we gently work on flexion at the poll with the basic exercise “leading in position”. You can see this in the video “Basic Exercises on the Lunge”.
In addition to checking and improving flexion, this exercise is used to explain future lunging aids to the horse. An untrained horse will usually react to a signal from the lunge by pulling against it, bending to the outside, and becoming tense. It is very important to explain this basic building block gently in-hand.
Massages of the tense areas of the neck can help achieve relaxation and giving at the poll.
In this exercise, too, make sure the horse is not tilting his head, like you can see here with Losti:
The red line shows clearly how far the head is tilted.
Four weeks later the exercise looks like this! Losti is supple at the poll and flexes beautifully to the inside:
Correct flexion to the inside looks like this!
If a horse shows this tilting of the head all the time and exercises and gentle massages don’t improve it, a veterinarian or physiotherapist should be consulted for treatment.