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Stacy Westfall: Strengthen a Horse's Weak Direction

Each month, Stacy Westfall offers a new horsemanship tip for Horse Illustrated readers.

By Stacy Westfall

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If your horse is softer, more coordinated or generally easier to work in one direction than the other, begin your training sessions on his good side. Work in that direction for about 10 to15 minutes, doing a variety of exercises that include bending and counterbending. Once your horse is riding well in that direction—which should be pretty easy because it is his good way—stop and take a break, and maybe even dismount.

There is a good chance that you will need to work in the weaker direction twice as long. Remember to reward your horse for small improvements. Take small breaks and let him stand for a minute as a reward. When your horse gives you something you are really pleased with, reward him by dismounting.

Stick with the above program for at least 10 consecutive rides. You should begin to notice that your horse’s weaker side becomes stronger because he always gets rewarded with rest when that side improves.

If you continue this for 30 consecutive rides and still feel there is a drastic difference between the two directions, or you are seeing very little improvement, talk with your vet about possible soreness issues.

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This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe.

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