MAKE CORNERS COUNT! - Ride corners correctly

Riding through corners correctly will benefit your horse's suppleness and improve your riding position. This exercise can be practised whether you have a school or not, by using poles or road cones, create a corner in a paddock or an inner boundary in one of the school's corner
CircleCone 300x300 
Your objective should be: 
1. To maintain rhythm and fluidity both into and out of the bend.
2. To not to allow your horse to lean in or motorbike. 
3. Use your riding aids effectively. 
In Walk 
  1. Establish a balanced active walk, be sure you are sitting straight, keep your head up and have a gentle supple contact on the bit. 
  2. Ask for slight flexion on the inside rein by gently squeezing the rein and using your fingers. Do not pull their head round.
  3. Keep a constant contact on the outside rein which will help support the horse and prevent too much inside bend in the neck.
  4. As the rider, do not lean in or twist your seat around the corner, allow the straightness of the horse to take you.
  5. Your inside leg must stay on the girth line to encourage the horse's inside hind leg to step forward and under themselves. 
  6. Your outside leg should sit just behind the girth line to help prevent the hind quarters falling out.
  7. Both of your legs and your light seat should be enough to maintain the impulsion.
  8. Always approach the corner 'lane' off a straight line, this is not an exercise to be practised on a circle. 
  9. Work both reins equally; most horses favour one rein so always start a new exercise with their favoured rein to gain their confidence then alternate.
In Trot
Once you feel improvement and softness from you horse progress to trot. 
  1. Work in to a soft collected trot with good contact. 
  2. Follow the aids as in walk and do not rush. 
  3. When you are both comfortable with this stage bring the poles in slightly to narrow the lane, this will make it harder for the horse so you may want to try again in walk first. 
  4. Your horse's body will have to become supple to manage the tighter angle so hold them together with your legs and seat to maintain the forward movement and do not be tempted to pull their head around. 
  5. If your horse struggles with the narrow lane in the early stages, walk in and then forward to trot as you round the bend, this helps hind leg engagement and stops the tendency to lean both in the horse and rider.
In Canter 

Once you and your horse have established a balanced supple execution of the corner in both walk and trot work on your canter gait. This may take some practise so do not be hasty and allow your horse time to become fully relaxed with what you are asking of him. 
  1. Adjust the lane width to ensure your horse will be comfortable and able to negotiate the corner. Initially, do not make it too difficult as this will unnerve your horse and he will then begin to rush or panic.
  2. Before you approach the corner, establish a very short 'bouncy' canter stride 
  3. It is not unusual to find that you break into trot just before or within the lane, don't panic.
  4. Maintain the 'bounce' with good contact and keep your legs firmly on.
  5. Sit up, keeping your head up looking forward and not down to the ground.
Riding through corners correctly involves a lot of collection and core strength so remember to allow your horse to stretch long and low on a loose rein for a few minutes at the end of the exercise. Read more flatwork and schhooling advice and tips