Work-in-hand is when you use dismounted exercises.  I use it extensively to begin lateral work and sometimes to resolve resistance in the jaw by the use of jaw flexions.  Though jaw flexions I employ mainly for horses that have a great amount of resistance in the jaw.  These dismounted exercises are most beneficial as it simplifies learning for the horse because he does not have to deal with the weight of the rider complicating balance issues.  Also the lateral exercises  flex and stretch the spinal column through a maximum range giving a profound stretch to the whole body.   It is like the sun salutation is to yoga, an exercise that has multiple mental and physical benefits.  In a short amount of time you can achieve a low impact workout and it can be done anywhere.

Eros doing work-in-hand















Another invaluable exercise for horses that have a lot of resistance in the jaw are flexions of the jaw.  These exercises were invented by Francois Baucher who was considered by many to be the Leonardo da Vinci of the equestrian world in the 1800’s.  Resistance of the jaw must be resolved in order to obtain lightness.

Dismounted jaw flexion

Dismounted jaw flexion


The video below is an example of work-in-hand by a three-year old Oldenburg mare that I started.  The whole horse from the head to the tail is flexed during this exercise which precipitates suppleness and softness.