Horse Illustrated

# Circles and Squares

## Two simple geometry exercises that increase your horse’s balance.

- BY JULIA KOHL / PHOTOS BY DANIELA DERLER

two simple geometry exercises that increase balance.

To increase your horse’s lateral bend, improve his carrying capacity and correct the horse that “falls through” the outside shoulder, try using these circle and square exercises.

20, 15, 10

WHERE YOU GO: Pick up a trot on the left rein and ride a 20-meter circle at one end of the arena. Ride once around the circle. Then, starting at the middle of the short side at A, ride a second, smaller circle 15 meters in diameter. Finish with a 10-meter circle, which also begins and ends at A.

WHY YOU DO IT: This exercise increases the horse’s lateral bend and helps improve carrying capacity. Each circle prepares the horse for the increased difficulty of the next smaller circle. This exercise is especially well-suited to young or green horses since it gradually introduces them to smaller and smaller circles rather than

surprising them with a single small circle at a random point in the ring.

HERE’S HOW:

1. Trot a 20-meter circle, tracking left.

2. When you reach the middle of the short side at A (shown below) or C, begin a 15-meter circle. Prepare for the turn onto this smaller circle with a half-halt so that the horse steps further underneath his body with his hind legs. Use a firm inside (left) leg aid to maintain the impulsion. Your outside (right) guarding leg must come into play to ensure the horse’s hind feet directly follow the tracks made by the front feet. Create inside flexion with the inside rein, but use enough outside rein to keep your horse from drifting out.

3. Use half-halts to ensure the horse carries himself and doesn’t lean on your hand.

4. Once you have ended the 15-meter circle at A or C, ride into your 10-meter circle. To begin, use a somewhat stronger version of the aids described in Step 2 to guide the horse onto the smallest circle requiring the greatest degree of bend his training allows. If the horse willingly trots the circle without losing flexion, bend, rhythm or impulsion, minimize your aids as much as possible. It’s very important to keep only a light contact with the inside rein as much as possible!

6. Once you have ended your 10-meter circle at A or C, you have completed the exercise. Ride straight along the track at a forward pace, change directions and begin the exercise tracking the other way. This exercise can also be done at a canter by the more advanced horse and rider.

RIDING A SQUARE

WHERE YOU GO: Essentiall­y, this exercise is riding a square within a 20-meter circle: Begin a corner at A, then ride a straight line to the