The exercise nose to flank is an exercise in which we teach the horse to yield to physical aids (= yielding to direct pressure) on the side of the head. In this exercise, we ask the horse to move his/her nose towards the flank using subtle pressure.
Goal of the exercise
- Teaching the horse the concept of ‘yielding to physical aids,’ so the horse learns to go along with physical (direct) pressure instead of fighting it. The more places on the horse’s body on which you teach this, the better the horse will understand the yielding.
- To prepare for lateral flexion when lunging and riding. If the horse already knows this exercise from the Groundwork, it will be easier to ask correct lateral flexion in terms of dressage.
- It is a good stretching exercise.
- It is a ‘check exercise:’ if the horse already knows the exercise, you can also run it to check whether the horse wants to respond to your request to bring the nose to the flank at that particular time. You can also use it to check whether your horse is relaxed or not (mental tension will make the horse perform this exercise less well).
How do you teach your horse this?
- You halter your horse with a rope halter or cavesson and a long lead rope.
- You stand next to the horse, near the withers and put the lead rope on the back of the horse.
- You let your hand slip from the little clip, over the rope, almost to your outside hip (phase 1).
- You then apply a slight pressure on the rope. This is a gentle pressure that the horse feels on the side of the head (phase 2).
- You then lightly knead the rope without fully letting go of the pressure. Letting go completely means that the rope starts hanging (phase 3).
- If the horse does not yield yet, you can lure the horse using your other free hand until the horse gives, while you continue to knead softly (phase 4).When the horse gives, please give too. The horse can give in phase 1, 2, 3 or 4. Generally, the horse understands the exercise when it already gives in phase 1 or 2.