This exercise will improve your ability to bend your horse, guide him precisely, and keep him straight between your hands.
How to ride it:
Make a figure eight, using the straight line of the center (marked X) to change your horse’s bend before heading in the new direction.
- Improves your ability to bend your horse, guide him precisely, and keep him straight between your reins (“straight” on a circle, meaning bent to the curve of the circle).
- Encourages him to bend equally both ways and stay attentive to your steering.
Focus on keeping your circles round and equal in size. Pay attention to the amount of rein and leg needed to get the right bend. Add a cone at the arena’s center for a visual cue.
Change it up: Keep it simple by staying at a walk and jog. Make it more challenging by varying your speed, changing gaits at X, or riding it at a lope and changing leads at X.
To get the most out of this exercise:
- Be sure to always ride each exercise in both directions.
- Use your inside leg at the cinch to bend your horse on circles and through turns, and your inside rein to tip his nose in the direction of travel. Use your outside leg just behind the cinch, plus your outside rein against his neck to reinforce his bending. Use your leg at or just behind the cinch and the same-side rein against your horse’s neck to ask for lateral movement.
- Work to make your cues as light and subtle as possible.
- Look ahead to where you’re going (not down at your horse or at the ground).
This exercise was originally written by Debbie Moors and published in EquiSearch in 2015.