PC: Elaine Ward Western Dressage……

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Whether your a beginner or professional rider, you’ve likely performed a circle or two. This simple exercise isn’t always that easy to ride though. If you want your horse to reap the benefits, then you’ll have to turn your egg-shaped ovals into round circles.

Benefits of Circles

Why should you even bother with riding in circles? The obvious is that it loosens your horse’s muscles. It also stretches both sides of their body. When lounging or riding on a circle, you can also quickly redirect a distracted horse. Furthermore, the rider can work on their own abilities. They must maintain effective aids in order to stay on a round circle. It’s very easy for a horse to fall in or out, thus creating a lopsided shape.

Basic Aids

As the rider, you’ll need to use your hands, legs, and seat effectively. Follow these tips!
  • Inside leg remains at the girth. It encourages forward movement and asks for a bend.
  • Inside hand asks for a slight bend in the neck.
  • Outside leg positions behind the girth. This prevents the hindquarters from popping out of the circle.
  • Outside hand controls the pace, while preventing the horse from over-bending.
  • Hips and shoulders stay upright and parallel to the horse’s.

A Round Circle

It can be tough to ride a perfect circle. In fact, any riders struggle with this! It can be helpful to imagine there are four points to your circle. Aim to ride a nice curved line through each quadrant. Your eyes should look ahead constantly searching for that next “point”. When schooling at home, you can even set out cones. Ride on the outside of the cones. Check out the video below to see how it’s ridden. English and western riders can benefit from this exercise! You can try some other exercises by checking out ‘20 Groundwork Exercises To Master With Your Horse‘!