THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FLEXING AND BENDING
It's important to remember when training your horse, that there is a great difference between flexing and bending. Bending occurs through a horses body and flexing occurs through the poll. The correct bend and flexion is related to the track you are moving on and the movement that you are beginning.
The poll is the point from the ears down towards the neck, of approximately three to four centimetres in length. To achieve flexion, the rider will flex the inside rein, without exaggeration, so he can see the eye. The outside rein will control and support.
Bending is achieved around the inside leg of the rider, so that the entire body of the horse is bent evenly from the poll to the tail. The inside leg remains on the girth, while the outside leg goes behind the girth ensuring the quarters don't swing out and around bends. You must ensure that you don't over bend the horse, as a lot of strain is put onto the horses' outside front leg and inside hindleg when bending occurs. Once the horse achieves the bend, the aid is then relaxed and the horse is encouraged to continue straight. In order to be able to ride with the correct flexion and bend, the horse must be capable of going forward to the outside rein, which serves to support.
In order to follow the track you are making, on circles and round corners, the horse will be flexed and bending, so that the inside hindleg comes more under the horse which allows the outside front leg more movement and looseness.