Working on balance
Here are a couple of exercises for you to try.
Horses tend to favour one side and this first exercise will help you to recognize which shoulder your horse tends to drift through.
The idea for the exercise is that you ride a rounded corner eg from C to H, continuing the curve so that you ride over the quarter line, then straight over X to the opposite quarter line, curving back to the track at F, continuing the curve through the corner, past A, then repeating the exercise, from K to M.
This exercise is a variation on changing the rein across the diagonal as you are making greater use of circles and curves. The difference is that the shape you are riding resembles an hourglass - it is not a figure of eight, which you have ridden before. In effect you are riding a left-hand curve followed by a right-hand curve, with a little bit of straightness over X.
Riding the exercise will help your horse's balance - but remember that you must not compromise your own position if your horse is initially a little unbalanced. Be aware of your upper body, in particular your shoulders.
Get used to the exercise in walk before progressing to trot - remember to be aware of which shoulder your horse drifts through. For instance, if his weaker shoulder is to the inside, support your horse before the bend with the inside leg and rein.
Now try this!
An alternative to the hourglass exercise is to ride around the school, concentrating on riding straight lines along the long sides and half 20m circles at each end of the school eg from just before M to just past H.
Try the exercise in walk first and then you can move on to trot and canter. However, you need to master it in the slower pace first! Your horse should be able to move throughout the exercise in balance, in rhythm, without drifting to one side or the other. Easier said, than done! As always, be aware that most horses are stiffer, to varying degrees, one way.
Double-check your own position as you ride through this exercise, as it's easy for you to twist if your horse tends to fall in. Remember to look ahead yourself and prepare for the turns, using half-halts in advance of a turn. Ask for a little inside bend with the inside rein before your half circle and remember to use your outside aids to help keep your horse on the correct line - the outside leg should be behind the girth to help prevent your horse's hindend from swinging out. For more great riding and advice and tips Read more