July 6th, 2010 Leave a commentSign Up Go to comments

Using Circles to Supple Your Horse

Suppling Through Circles

Does your horse have a favorite direction to be ridden in? Does he ride more smoothly and with better contact in one direction? I have a straightforward exercise that can help correct and straighten your horse. This exercise takes 2 basic shapes and uses them to loosen and stretch your horse so that he will be easier to ride in either direction. It will also help you to coordinate your aids and also improve your timing with the aids.

It is best to start out with your normal warm up routine. This should take about 15-20 minutes. After your warm up you are ready to start the “Suppling through circles” exercise which is the work session of your ride. This is a very valuable exercise that can be made progressively more difficult by making the circles smaller as well as increasing the gait at which the exercise is performed. This exercise is very helpful in loosening a horse that is stiff either direction, as well as improving rider timing and use of aids. You start this exercise at the walk an then progress in gait as skill increases. You will start by riding on the rail. As you are riding on the rail, you add a circle on each side of the arena. The circle should be added towards the center of each side, so you will be riding 1 circle for each side. This includes both the short and long sides of the arena. My recommendation is to start with 20 meter circles (the average size of a lunge circle), and also start with the walk.

You ride this exercise by riding around on the rail (outside) of your arena. Then in the center of each side you ride a circle, maintaining the gate at which you are riding. For example you are riding down the long side at the walk, towards the center you start riding your 20 meter circle (this is the size I recommend to start with) while maintaining the same speed of walk, and return back to the rail, continuing with the exercise. You will then ride the next side at walk as well and start your circle as you approach the center of that side.

Now you can add trot into this exercise. If the trot is more difficult for you and your horse, start by only changing 2 of the circles to trot circles, and leaving the others at walk. For example you can trot on the long sides and walk on the short sides. After you are comfortable with trotting 2 of the circles proceed to trot all 4 of the circles. As the trot becomes easy you start by adding 2 canter circles, while keeping the other 2 at trot. Once this is fairly easy to do you can canter all 4 circles.

As the speed becomes easier you can start gradually reducing the size of the circles. As you are reducing the circles size reduce the speed again until it is easier for you and your horse to ride. For example start by trotting the smaller circles, perform this in both directions before adding the canter. Always stay within you and your horses comfort level for any exercise. You can also add more circles to the long sides, and also alternate with different shaped circles as well. For example on the long sides ride a larger circle and the short sides ride slightly smaller circles. You can mix up the circle shapes and sizes as long as both you and your horse are comfortable.

After repeating this exercise for several weeks you should notice an improvement in your horses suppleness and in his ability to ride either direction easily.

Enjoy the warmer temperatures and stay safe. The next several articles will be more exercises and work sessions to allow you and your horse to progress as a team.

C Horse Logic 2009

Classical Dressage, Western, and Hunt Seat Lessons. Come ride exceptional & experienced lesson horses. Based in Sugar Grove IL with travel to your facility available. Learn better communication with your horse & build your relationship. Fully insured with over 19 years riding experience. Contact Sara for more information 630-631-2746

Sara McKiness
Horse Logic
Sugar Grove, IL

Fheonix Soft Treed Saddles

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