There are many exercises that will help to reach this objective and I will list some of them. It is well known that it is impossible to reach straightness in a horse without being able to bend in both directions.
Very often horses can show stiffness more on one side than on another. We generally start to work the horse always from the easier side and then , gently, we go to the stiffer one.
To achieve bending and suppleness we recommend to work a lot on circles and turns. If your horse is in the initial stage of training better to ride mostly 20m. circles and 15m circles in walk , trot and canter. Too often we have seen horses who do not have the appropriate flexibility and suppleness been ridden on 10, 8 or even 6 m circles and this can create big damage to the horse instead of improving him.
So at the beginning only big circles and , gradually, when the horse has acquired more balance and suppleness you can start to ride the 10 m circles in walk and trot.
Only when the horse will really be able carry well his weight having acquired a higher level of collection and bend then you can start to introduce the smaller 8m and 6m circles.
Remember also that when you ride in the arena, every corner is important and is a part of a circle; the size of this circle depending on your horse's abilities. Again I see riders going to deep into the corners with horse not ready to do that and this can cause discomfort and damage to the horse. When riding a circle or turn your horse's hind legs should follow on the same track as the forelegs and he will need to take extra weight on the inside hind leg. This is achieved by riding from the inside leg to the outside hand. Throughout the circle your horse should remain on a constant bend and should not be bending just through his neck, in which case his quarters would 'drag' to the outside.
Some exercises on how to get a supple and straight horse:
- Perfecting 20m, 15m and 10m circles
- Figure of eight
- Riding correct 8m and 6m circles
- Riding correct corners
- Shallow loop serpentine
- Half circles and straightening to the track