Problems with circles - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 11-07-2011, 11:28 AM Thread Starter
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Problems with circles

I'm an intro level dressage rider with a 4 year old Oldenburg colt. We're working fairly rhythmic, straight and forward, but I have a lot of problems with circles. I do have an trainer but I have difficultly when working on my own. I'm working hard on using my seat/legs first, and thinking in terms of "connecting" my inside hand to my outside rein, and trying to make sure I'm getting bend at the poll, not at the neck. I also try to ride the circle in 4 parts. My circles, however, are staying small. I'm studying Jane Savoie's Dressage 101. So I know what I should be doing, but I'm obviously omitting something. It does take me a while to catch on to new concepts, I have to practice a lot to get it. Does anyone have any helpful tips?
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post #2 of 8 Old 11-07-2011, 11:51 AM
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I'm just a little above you at this point - we are practicing Training level. :) What I find to be critical in asking for the bend/circle is using my inside leg. It doesn't let my horse to "fall inside" while still keeping bend. If you are staying on small circle I wonder if that's what is going on: if you don't ask enough to move out.

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post #3 of 8 Old 11-07-2011, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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So do you keep your inside leg still and just add a little more pressure? Or add tiny little bumps with your leg?
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post #4 of 8 Old 11-07-2011, 01:23 PM
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You need to keep the inside leg as a pulse to the horse, I would suggest slightly more weight in your outside leg (not so you're sitting to the outside, however) and think about taking your outside leg 'off' the horse, almost as though you are pulling him to the outside, using your outside hand to steady him so he doesn't drift, or fall to the inside.

Keep your inside leg long, and feel as though you are pushing him in to your outside hand, don't let your inside hand cross over his wither though, its a common thing to try and stear the horse to the outside with your reins.

Is he nice and supple in his back, and using his hind legs properly? See if he lunges alright on a circle, if so, then I would suggest its either rider error, or he's unsure of how to do it properly.

Hope this helps!
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post #5 of 8 Old 11-07-2011, 02:42 PM
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My one student had this issue. I had her take the outlines of a full sized dressage arena, marked the 4 points of the circle, then had her "draw" the circle arc on paper. When you get the visual feedback it really shows up that you've been riding a diamond/smaller circle, etc.

Another trick When you're at "B" look at the 2 meter inside the line 1/4 circle mark (on the centerline) then "see" in your mind that same "arc". Put horses nose on arc and use OUTside rein to keep horses nose on that arc. Ride EVERY step on arc and do a small leg yield if you leave the arc line - as sson as you notice (and if you're riding every stride you'll notice immediately).

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post #6 of 8 Old 11-07-2011, 07:15 PM
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In addition to the excellent posts above, maybe a visual would help you?
Set up four cones on a 20m circle, so the 4 'points' of the circle and ride a diamond shape by keeping to the outside of the 4 cones. Once you are able to ride a diamond, start asking for bend around your inside leg and think about leg yielding out onto the line of a circle, between the cones.

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post #7 of 8 Old 11-08-2011, 09:45 AM Thread Starter
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My trainer suggested the same thing! So I'm going to replace circles with diamonds for a while and then gradually ask for bend on one side, then another, until we have all 4. My trainer also reminded me I'm on a young horse and to stop expecting too much too soon.
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post #8 of 8 Old 11-09-2011, 01:27 PM
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I had a problem at the beginning of summer with my horse falling in on the left rein and it was near impossible to ride a 20m circle. The solution was to start in walk around the outside track and lengthen the left leg in order to push the horse into each corner, thus getting it to bend the ribcage. From there we progressed to trotting a 20m circle but leg yielding out to create the diamond shape and we also did the same in canter. In a short time we were once again able to ride nice round circles without any falling in.
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