Riding precise lines
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, May 15, 2008 07:45 PM
Many times I see riders do not use an arena to their advantage. They either stay on the track all the time and let their horse follow the walls. Or, they ride sloppy figures, uneven circles, miss the letters for diagonal changes, let their horses drift left or right. Even if you do not understand the complicated ideas such as riding through the back, on the bit, etc you can make your horse much better by riding precise lines. Such work disciplines you and your horse. As a rider you have to stay focused and create a sort of chute with your aids. And your horse must accept your aids and follow your requests without asking too many questions. In a manège we have an opportunity to ride very precise lines which are difficult to do in open fields or on trails. Even if you do not have letters you can use corners and fence posts as reference points for your circles and changes of direction. Or, you can put cones, buckets, hay bales etc. to help yourself in creating visual points.
The greener the horse the simpler the lines should be. Wide turns, big circles, diagonals, riding 2 m off the wall... Even these figures are not very easy if you pay attention to many details such as:
  • Was I ready to ride my figure?
  • Did I start my circle at the planned point, did I finish at the same point?
  • Was my circle round?
  • Did my horse tried to speed up/slow down at any part of the circle, turn, diagonal?
  • Did my horse tried to drift left, right, outside, inside?
The green or untrained horse does not have mental focus or physical suppleness to follow your requests all the time. He will try to make circle bigger, or fall on his inside shoulder, drift on a diagonal line and cut the corners, drift toward the wall if you try staying off it, etc. Even trained horses fall apart when there is no precise guideness from the rider. If you always guide your horse and correct him when he has got off course he will get used to the idea of listening and obeying you. And he will see you as someone who tells him where to go. And in more difficult situations such as open field, busy road, etc you will have more chance to get his attention back to you.
When your horse gets better with simple figures you can start tightening the turns, riding smaller circles, figures eight, serpentines, spirals. You can change direction through the middle, through the center line, through small half-circle and then back to the wall. Again you pay attention to details and try to ride your lines precisely.
You will notice that your horse will become more supple, he will start to bend better. He may even come on the bit by himself. You will have more fun riding him during winter because you have things to do in indoor arena and during summer because he will be better trained horse.
Happy riding...
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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