She's a cutie! I like to work on spiral circles at the walk and trot. Use both reins plus both legs to cue for a good bend with a drift to make the circle smaller, then drift back out to a larger circle. Inside rein should be up a bit, outside rein should be normal height. Inside leg should at the girth and outside leg should be back a bit.
When you ask for her to come in, inside rein should go 1-2" away from the neck, outside rein should go very close to the neck, inside leg should come off the horse just a bit, with a bit more weight in that stirrup. Outside leg should go on the horse to cue her over. Keep her nicely bent to the inside. If she starts to straighten, put a little leg on the inside and pull back just a hair with the inside rein.
When you ask for her to drift out to a bigger circle, your inside rein should come in towards her neck (but keep it back so her neck stays bent). The outside rein should come away from the neck a little. Outside leg should just barely come off the horse with just a little more weight in that stirrup. Inside leg should cue at the girth for the horse to move over.
It should take 3-4 circles to slowly move in or out all the way. Remember to BREATHE, keep your shoulders back and relaxed, don't let your inside shoulder or hip collapse, keep your seat bones even in the saddle, and LOOK UP and around the circle. Adjust the amount of leg and rein you use for your cues depending on her reactions. Start with walking at a good clip. Once she's relaxed and responding well, move up to a relaxed trot.
Once she's good with spiral circles, I would work on serpentines at the walk and trot, and figure eights. With each, be sure your figures are BIG to start with, using gentle bends and long/large turns. The figure 8s should be big circles that touch in the middle, so you go from one bend, go straight 2-3 strides, then go on the next bend. Always remember to LOOK UP, use your weight in the stirrup, and keep your hands up with elbows bent and soft.
After she's good with those figures, I'd work on a more advanced exercise, counter bend on a large circle. Get a nice working trot on your 20 meter or larger circle. Slowly ask her to counter bend, or bend the wrong way on your circle. Use your outside leg on the girth, inside leg back but passive. Keep your eyes and shoulders pointed around the circle. Lower your inside rein and take it away from her neck a bit, but keep it back to encourage her around the circle. Raise your outside rein a tad, bring it back/tighter, and pull it closer to her neck. You're using your outside rein as an indirect rein, asking for the outside bend, but also asking her to stay over and not change direction. Adjust the pressure of each aid depending on her reaction. Again, this is a more advanced exercise. Do NOT attempt it until she is going well on leg and you are doing better at understanding mechanics and how to react to her.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
Last edited by luvs2ride1979; 07-09-2009 at 12:44 PM.