Easier to Circle? - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 8 Old 08-05-2013, 08:16 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Canadensis, Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,313
• Horses: 1
Question Easier to Circle?

I've heard, a few times, that it's easiest for a horse to canter in a circle.
For my mare this is untrue. Under saddle or on the lunge, circles at the canter are really tough for her.
A lot of times she'll break down a pace or just cross canter. She leans VERY heavily to the inside of the circle. On a straight away she's absolutely fine.

Under saddle, I can get her to travel a bit more upright by putting my weight in the outside stirrup, lifting my inside hand slightly, holding with the outside rein (lightly), pushing her away with my inside leg and bending her with my outside leg. Sorry for the detailed explanation, but I want to make sure that what I'm doing is okay.
When I do ALL of this, she'll circle and not break the canter. She slows down a lot as well.

Any tips on how to help with this?

I know that different muscles are used, but she's is by no means under muscled.
I think it may be her lack of bend, if I circle more often will it help her? Her neck is bendy-wiggly-crazy, but her barrel just won't bend so much.
I was considering just lunging her, at the canter, more often so that maybe she could figure it out on her own. Perhaps I'm confusing her?


I'll try to get a video today!

I live to ride and I ride to live
Horses are just angels without wings
11/01/09 <3 my horse left hoof prints on my heart
Lexiie is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 8 Old 08-05-2013, 09:47 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,231
• Horses: 7
Actually cantering in a circle is harder for them, they have to pick up that inside shoulder and carry themselves differently then in straight lines. It sounds like you are trying to help her lift her shoulder so that's good. Your outside leg should be more like a gas pedal, and used to hold his hind end if it goes to swing out, and your inside leg will hold the bend. A couple things to think about make sure you are cantering a big circle to start at least 50 feet, second shift your weight in saddle to the outside hip, make sure your sitting up and centered don't lean in your stirrup to the outside. So if your cantering right then you would sit more to your left bum cheek. Use your right hand to lift and your left rein laying slightly across your horses neck to kind of hold her there but it should not be tight and you don't need contact with the mouth on the outside just hold the rein to keep the door closed so to speak. When you get good at big circles then work on smaller ones.

If your horse is stiff though his rib cage use your legs more aggressively to get through the resistance if he leans on your reins you can use little bumps to make him uncomfortable for leaning on you and encourage him to pick up that shoulder. A lot of this is just feel and timing, you have to feel when he gives and release the pressure and make him responsible for his feet.
gssw5 is offline  
post #3 of 8 Old 08-05-2013, 09:56 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Subtropics
Posts: 244
• Horses: 1
Yes, the neck does tend to be easy to bend, and yes the pace slows down when trying to get a horse to bend who is not used to the exercise. It isn't so much about muscle fitness than it is flexibility--- though you do need a horse to have some strength before asking it to do flexibility maneuvers in motion.

Can your horse do anything laterally (sideways)? A turn on the forehand, a turn on the haunches? Getting the hind legs to step across and underneath is where you get headed on the right track; so teaching your horse to move the hindquarters or yield the hindquarters would be what you should do, first on the ground, later in saddle. There are quite a few ways to do it, but basically it is that you pressure the hind area from the side, and reward the horse for moving away from pressure. Later you move the cue to under saddle, and there you go. Getting the hind legs moving sideways/across means using a lot of your calf muscles... don't go jabbing your heel right away. Be careful that you don't over-bend her neck, and you should be fine with adding on the sideways-hind leg work. Be slow and simple, i.e. don't canter or trot the first few days your horse is doing the maneuver appropriately.
TerciopeladoCaballo is offline  
post #4 of 8 Old 08-06-2013, 08:29 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Canadensis, Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,313
• Horses: 1
Gssw5- I use a little tap of she doesn't respond to the small pressure and then she kinda bends and then goes back again. Which is my fault, when I started working with her I would just ride, I didn't really know how to get her moving properly as well as myself.

Terci- she's definitely good at moving off her hindquarters and her forehand. We did ground work almost exclusively for a month and we picked a lot of things that have come in handy. She can pivot both ways with her neck mostly straight.
When we side pass at the walk, she'll bend her barrel nicely, but we worked on that for quite a while.

Thank you both!
Posted via Mobile Device
Lexiie is offline  
post #5 of 8 Old 08-06-2013, 11:26 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 41,032
• Horses: 2
Start every bend in the saddle by making sure that she is soft in her jaw. I mean that there is a soft flexion to the poll. Not so much up/down, but toward the inside. Just enough that you see the inside eye, and soft enough that she is not leaning on the rein. Once she is softer in her jaw/poll, it will be easier for her to have bend in her body. So, do not step her sideways unless she is prepared with some softness in the poll, otherwise you simply train the horse to move sideways with a brace in its' body.

It IS harder for the horse to canter circles, so work your way up to them by working trot circles first.
tinyliny is offline  
post #6 of 8 Old 08-07-2013, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Canadensis, Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,313
• Horses: 1
Thanks Tiny! I can't quite see her inside eye, but she's right there. I'll just bend her a teensy bit more.
Her trot circles are much nicer than they used to be. The only problem we have there is that we can't circle off the rail so much. Because the circle will be really nice and round until we're heading back to the point we started at. Then she kind of bee-lines right to it. I'm not sure if it's because she knows that makes the cirlce a tiny bit smaller or if she's uncomfortable bending into the rail? If that makes sense.

Another quick question, when we circle at the walk it's sooooooo slow. I've tried getting her to be going into the circle at a decent strong walk and making the circles bigger. (We don't do small circles anyway) I've tried giving her leg, but then she kind of comes out of her bend and then I have to bring her back.
Her walk is ALWAYS slow. She's been doing better when we're walking around the ring, but doing a circle she's back to her normal crawl. Even if I do half the ring.
Is there anything I can do aside from just practicing?

Another question, sorry guys! Her trot strides are enormous, and her canter strides are very short. There's not a lot of movement at the canter, now that's not to say that she's going very slow. I feel like cantering circles will help me be able to control her strides a bit more. I can shorten them okay, but extending them without her feeling like she's turning into a little wind-up toy is a challenge. So this isn't really much to do with circling, but how would I go about getting the extension or shortening that I want? I've tried halfhalting, and she's been okay with that. (I've heard many definitions for that, for me, it's holding a little with my hands to say slow down and pushing with my seat and legs to say work) Half-halting definitely makes shortening her strides easy. It also seems to put her more on her butt
Posted via Mobile Device
Lexiie is offline  
post #7 of 8 Old 08-08-2013, 11:42 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Subtropics
Posts: 244
• Horses: 1
Whoop! I'm back with a little question myself, too.

I noticed today while doing bending and marching exercises at walk that my mare stumbles and trips after doing a large circle to extend her stiff side. Wondering if that's something normal when working like this... Whether it means I've done something right or incorrect. She likes to overbend her neck, so I started using my outside leg and hand to limit her neck bend but still keep the overall bend and step-under. Felt great, until after the circle is done... Not falling down, but catching herself and wanting to trot.

Ahem. For me, I practice the stride lengthening when my horse feels comfortable stretching out, and stride shortening when we do our bending. It's easier to bend frame-by-frame slowly as molasses and add some more impulsion later. Lengthening, would be opening fingers a bit and pushing the horse on to reach, reach, reach, not just with the feet, imo, but with the whole body swinging. Shortening is the half-halts, one after the other, til you get it, or even downward shifts.

I think it's easier to shorten during bending because you should already be riding the horse into the outside rein, so capturing energy going to it is straightforward.

And... when in doubt, trotting poles out ;) When I feel particularly evil, I work my horse in a sandier area with a few trotting poles on one side. She gets the consequence of hitting the pole when she goes at the wrong stride or wrong speed, so there is more a chance of the horse learning by its own movement than by you directing it. Something you could do is put a short-strided trotting pole set on one side of the arena, and a longer-strided trotting pole set on the other, or setting up a circle to be lengthened in one half and shortened in the other. That will definitely get her booty moving x)
TerciopeladoCaballo is offline  
post #8 of 8 Old 08-09-2013, 12:07 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Tenn
Posts: 28
• Horses: 0
walk in circles, then trot in circles. do this also in a serpentine. then move to a canter. i can also tell you that by lifting your inside hand is right. i would probably lift it a little more. you feel the difference.
GaitedGirl625 is offline  

canter problems , circling

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
breath easier mynxrider Horse Training 3 01-24-2013 12:23 PM
Which would be easier to draw? Snizard93 Horse Artwork 9 02-08-2012 02:24 PM
Is it easier...? Harlee rides horses Horse Training 31 02-09-2009 08:48 AM
Maybe this will be easier?? Harlee rides horses Horse Riding Critique 18 07-09-2008 03:05 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome