Exercise 1 CIRCLE AWAY TENSION
“Once DB2 is warmed up and ready to work, the first thing we ask him to do is to work on a circle,” explains Katie. “It sounds like a really simple start, but it’s a useful exercise for him as he can get a little tense. And, of course, even to do the most basic movements, bend and suppleness is important. “DB2 is getting suppler all the time, but it’s something we’ll practise in each schooling session, riding circles of different sizes and asking him to accept and bend around the inside leg.”
How to ride it
Go large around the arena in walk, ensuring your horse is working forward from your leg. If your horse can be a bit sharp at the start of a session, take up trot quickly as he’ll appreciate getting on with the work. It’s a good idea to allow him to do this as it will help him to relax. At the A or C end of the school, start a 20m circle using your inside leg on the girth to create the bend. Your outside leg is behind the girth to prevent his quarters from swinging out. Your inside hand is flexing slightly to the inside, but without pulling him round. Your horse may back off your leg, as DB2 tends to do. If this happens, encourage him forwards with your leg, giving slightly with the rein so he feels he has somewhere to go. Keep riding on the circle, asking for more acceptance of the bend each time you pass your starting point. Change the rein and ride the exercise the other way. Aim to keep the rhythm as you do so.
Simple circle work is a really useful tool