The exercise ‘nose to flank’ is an exercise where we teach the horse to yield to physical aids on the side of the head. In this exercise, we ask the horse to move his nose towards the flank using subtle pressure.
Goal of the exercise
- Teaching the horse the concept of ‘yielding to physical aids,’ so that he learns to go along with direct pressure instead of fighting it. The more places on the horse’s body that you can teach this, the better the horse will understand yielding.
- To prepare for lateral flexion when lunging and riding. If the horse already knows this exercise from 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 this exercise, you can also run it to check whether the horse wants to respond to your request at that particular moment. You can also use it to check whether your horse is relaxed or not (mental tension will impair his performance).
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 drape the lead rope over the back of the horse.
- You let your hand slide from the clip, down 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 has not yielded yet, you can lure him using your other free hand until he 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, we can say that the horse understands when he gives consistently in phase 1 or 2.