IMPROVE BALANCE AND SUPPLENESS - Riding a figure of 8

You can use a figure of eight exercise, using 20metre circles from A & C, for a variety of purposes.
 
A simple exercise to warm up and start with is shown below - this is a half figure of eight which results in a change of rein.
2 half circles 2600 x 342

Starting at A, walk as if you were commencing a 20 metre circle.

 As you approach X (the imaginary marker in the middle of the school), go straight for a couple of paces before bending in the opposite direction and starting a half 20 metre circle which will take
you round to C.

The complete 20 metre figure of eight is shown below.
figure of eight 600 x 341 01
  1. Initially, walk through your exercise ie starting from C begin riding a 20m circle but, a little way before you cross X, straighten for a couple of strides and then change the rein, riding another 20m circle at the opposite end of the school.
  2. As you approach X again, straighten and then change the rein so that you can then complete the original 20m circle ie you have ridden a figure of eight. Continue riding this figure of eight. 
  3. The objective is always to make the change of bend without your horse losing his balance. As the rider you must also ensure that your contact is even throughout the exercise.
  4. You can initially ride the exercise in walk and then move on to trot and finally canter. With canter, ensure you always come back to trot before X before striking off on the new correct canter lead.
  5. It's important that your horse feels evenly balanced and supple on both reins - at first your horse is likely to favour one rein so it's up to you to include this exercise in your programme until your horse feels even.
  6. Remember that you need to continually check your own position to ensure you are not favouring one side with your bodyweight. Do not be tempted to lean forward or to the side as you change direction, especially when doing this exercise in canter.
As your horse improves you should be able to reduce the number of straight strides you have to ride before X. For more riding and flatwork tips and exercses  Read more
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