Riding a circle help!

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Riding a circle help!

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  • Horse collapses in on circles
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    03-02-2011, 06:00 PM
Riding a circle help!

I take weekly riding lessons and we often practice circles, especially making them bigger and smaller. I really need some advice on how to use my legs and my seat (with little use of the reins) to ride around the circle and change it's size. I struggle to keep my horse from making the circle too small and going too far into the centre. Any advice would be much appreciated.
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    03-04-2011, 03:40 PM
Add inside leg to move out of the circle, also if you are trying to just get your horse to go out, it helps to hold (if you use one) the crop or whip on the inside. Make sure you are not looking into the center and check that you are not pulling on the inside rein if you are trying to bend your horse while circling. Good luck!
    03-04-2011, 04:00 PM
Super Moderator
Chances are that you are working so hard to push with your inside leg to get H to to the outside that you are leaning your whole body into the inside of the circle so H must move there , to stay under you, which is the first law of balance . So, put inside leg on AND open with your outside leg and even put more weigth down your outside leg. The opening (means lift you leg OFF the horse the tiniest amount) and the downward pressure in the outer stiruup will help lead your H out that way.

YOu must really THINK the circle more than you think the specific aids. Thinking too much onthe specific aids means you lose the "direction" that the horse can read from your total body attitude, not just one leg pushing into his side.
    03-04-2011, 04:13 PM
Super Moderator
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.
    03-06-2011, 10:20 PM
Super Moderator
Is the OP still here?
    03-07-2011, 12:53 AM
Thanks for the advice! I will try it out next time I'm riding :)
    04-15-2011, 04:23 AM
I try to sit on my outside butt cheek so I don't accidentally lean in and make the circle smaller. I also look into the centre, that helps keep it found. And inside leg to push the horse out and around your leg and out side rein if you need :)

canter, circle, lesson, reins

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