To improve Flatwork and Jumping
Abandon Boring Circles for a While!
If you are like me, and have a low boredom threshold, mind numbing circles, 5 metre loops on the long side and other basic exercises do become monotonous and boring after a while.
While basic exercises are absolutely necessary in educating your horse and keeping him supple whatever the level and discipline, it’s useful to have a few tricks and changes up your sleeve to relieve the monotony for both of you.
Horses get bored too.
This is the first exercise in a series
I have used the exercises in this series as I learnt them and sometimes modified them with a few of my own ideas.Hopefully they will help you improve as a rider, improve your horse as a competitor and also assist in relieving that boredom factor.
These exercises have been picked up from trainers, books, magazines and all sorts of unlikely sources over the years.
As the Chinese Proverb goes “There is nothing new under heaven” I do not, nor does anyone else hold any copyright to them.
Here are some links to equipment on our website that you may find useful.
Before you start, always, always make sure your horse and his muscles are warmed up with at least 10 minutes of walking.
If you can get him to do some stretching on a long rein as well, even better, never go straight in to working without a warm-up.
This could be a short hack out, some basic lunging or a spell on the horse walker if you are lucky enough to have access to one.
You do not need an arena, use whatever area you have access to, if that area has a straight line (fence, hedge etc.) to use as a reference, all the better.
That’s enough, let’s get going.
Oh yeah, One last thing, carry out these exercises equally on both reins.
Number One - Throw in a Twist
In walk or trot, (you know your horse, I don’t) get established in your chosen pace.
Walk should be a march, (not slopping along at window shopping speed) so if it helps, count out loud like a Sergeant Major, to establish your speed and rhythm. “One Two Three Four”
Trot should be brisk, purposeful and going somewhere.
Using your guideline, start by doing regular circles 20 metres diameter, (if you are not in an arena imagine where the dressage letters would be).
If you can see your horse’s eye and nostril (on the inside rein side) you will have the right amount of bend in your horse’s neck for a 20 metre circle.
If your horse’s eye and nostril can be seen on the outside rein side, you are in trouble!
Establish a pattern around the area you are using, (pretend/imagine it’s an arena roughly 40 x 20 metres if you do not have one) doing 20 metre circles at the A,E,C,B dressage letter positions.
When you are comfortable with this, the next time you go around, perform two circles at the A,E,C,B positions, one 20 metre and then one 10 metre, then carry on to the next position.
After a full revolution of the area/arena, change the rein and carry out the exercise on the opposite rein.
Things to look out for;-
Be accurate, treat circles as squares, look for and ride to each corner of the square. Just before you reach one corner of the square, look immediately for the next corner, I know it sounds odd, but it works.
You will ride a good circle if you keep the bend we discussed earlier, using your horse’s eye and nostril as your guide and by putting pressure on to your horse using your inside leg at the girth position.
You choose which rein to start on, be creative.
Continuing around the arena;-
Ride a 10 metre circle at one of the 4 main points A, E, C, or B
Lets say you choose B, as you return to B, ride a 20 metre half circle to E.
At E, you’ve guessed it, ride a 10 metre circle, then complete your 20 metre circle with
a half circle from E back to B.
Repeat at all four of the positions. Change the rein across a diagonal and do it all again the other way.
As I said earlier, horses get bored too, by changing the circle size, type (Full to Half) and the pace, you should keep the little devil interested.
Equipment you may need
The picture below shows the movements, just copy the circles pattern at B and E