Work the Square

Set up four cones in a square for end­less op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­fine your horse­man­ship and your horse’s guide.

Horse & Rider - - Practice Pen -

It might look like a sim­ple drill—rid­ing a square around four cones. But you’d be sur­prised how hard it is to main­tain a con­sis­tent dis­tance from each cone, make a square or rounded cor­ner, and travel a straight line to the next marker. Th is drill is a fun­da­men­tal part of our pro­gram be­cause it al­lows us to eval­u­ate a rider’s skill and at­ten­tion to de­tail. It also teaches the rider about pat­tern place­ment and plan­ning for each step of a pat­tern. Not so sim­ple af­ter all!

Here, we’ll dis­cuss how we use this square, which con­sists of four cones set in a square 15 to 30 paces apart, de­pend­ing on the size of the arena. Our rider will work the square to the right; re­verse all cues to ride the square to the left. Once you feel com­fort­able with this drill—trav­el­ing from cone to cone to com­plete the square— chal­lenge your­self fur­ther by adding gait tran­si­tions, stops, and spins at the mark­ers or where your trainer or helper calls for them. It’ll re­veal just how much more you have to learn. →

1Every cor­ner in this ex­er­cise has an ap­proach, a turn, and an exit. While you might tend to fo­cus on the cor­ners— we’re all drawn to the cones—it’s the ap­proach and the exit that can make or break each turn. Be­fore you start, think about how your body’s po­si­tion on your horse in­flu­ences his di­rec­tion. A shift in weight might seem in­con­se­quen­tial to you, but it can seem like a much “big­ger cue” to your horse. Be­gin by walk­ing around the square’s perime­ter, and then work up to a jog, like this rider. Pay close at­ten­tion to your straight­ness in the sad­dle and your horse’s straight path as you ap­proach the fi rst cone. Note how our rider looks ahead with square shoul­ders, bal­anc­ing her seat in the mid­dle of her sad­dle. This ap­proach will help her as she ex­e­cutes her fi rst cor­ner at the cone.

lead­ing more ob­vi­ously with her right shoul­der, for photo pur­poses. Th is de­lay in chang­ing her body po­si­tion means that she can hold her horse off the cone to pre­vent him from div­ing into the turn. Her cues com­bine to say “turn here, but not so much that you cut the cor­ner and we start down a path to the cone di­ag­o­nal from us.”

3Now that her horse is mostly through the cor­ner, our rider squares up her po­si­tion to set her horse on a straight path. The cor­rect­ness of this exit from the cor­ner helps en­cour­age that straight­ness in her horse. The key is to avoid over- or un­der-turn­ing your body as you go through the cor­ner. Th is will help you keep your horse on the cor­rect line of travel.

4No­tice the dis­tance be­tween the horse and the mark­ers. Our rider’s a lit­tle far­ther off the cones than we’d typ­i­cally like to see, but if she keeps an even, com­fort­able dis­tance all the way around, it’s ac­cept­able. If she guides her horse too close to the mark­ers, she’ll have a hard time mak­ing cor­rect cor­ners. Her horse would have to dive into each turn, which can set up prob­lems. If she stays even far­ther away from the cones than she is, she’s more likely to get lazy and round her cor­ners and not make a pre­cise square cor­ner.

5From this an­gle, as our rider steers her horse into the next cor­ner, you can see her body’s straight­ness while she be­gins to turn right. This en­cour­ages for­ward mo­tion in her horse and keeps him from turn­ing too sharply. As she con­tin­ues through her turn, her body will ro­tate ac­cord­ingly through the cor­ner. She’ll straighten her torso to align with her horse’s straight path as she ex­its the turn.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.