Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
• Horses: 0
Horses collapse in on a circle usually due to lack of proper bend and balance.
Picture a bicycle going around a corner. It cannot bend so you have to lean in to get it to turn. A horse who doesn't bend also leans in and often bends to the outside (nose pointing out). This causes the horse to throw a tremendous amount of their weight onto the inside shoulder, further hampering their ability to bend. When they lean in, it causes the rider to lean in too, putting even MORE weight onto that hampered inside shoulder. This causes the horse to collapse onto that inside shoulder and they will fall into the circle making it smaller and smaller. Pulling on the outside rein to "make the circle bigger" only throws EVEN MORE weight onto that offending inside shoulder!
See how this is like a snowball rolling downhill? It only gets worse and worse.
So, how do you fix it?
Work on helping your horse lighten their inside shoulder, put more weight onto their outside shoulder so that they can bend properly for the circle you are riding. There are some things you can do, initially, to help the horse out. First, start with your inside leg at the girth. Push your leg into her as if you were asking for her to move laterally out. Bring her nose toward the inside with light inside direct rein. Keep your outside rein steady and supportive so that she can move into it and use it for balance.(HMM I guess I am assuming you are in a snaffle. If not, this advise may be off for you).
You can help by putting more of your weight onto the outside seatbone (stirrup) to help her get your weight off that inside shoulder. Once she starts bending better, you won't have to do this anymore.
You may have to do lots of small, gentle half halts with the inside rein to encourage her to get off that inside shoulder and not lean on that inside rein for balance.
The big thing is to fix her at the walk, then and only then move to the trot and start over with that gait. Then, and only then, move to the canter using the same aids you started with at the walk.
I hope this helps you out.
Just remember, you are asking the horse to change the only way they know how to balance, so they will not understand at first. Be Patient. Don't get mad, just keep asking for improvement. The SECOND she does it even a little bit better, verbally praise her. She will get it since she surely wants to be better balanced. She will soon appreciate her balance and will be much happier.