Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Sunday, October 27, 2013 09:10 AM
Riding corners properly is not only essential for a well-ridden dressage test but also a great tool to develop horse's suppleness, balance and obedience. A well-ridden corner is not an easy exercise. Only now I am starting to understand what it takes to properly guide a horse through a corner that is a quarter of 6 m volte.
Of course, if we are riding a very young or green horse the corner may not even exist and the whole short side is ridden as a half of 20 m circle. However, the more a horse develops basic understanding of bending and steering the more defined corners should be. Even in Training Level judges expect riders to show somewhat defined corners, at least of a quarter of 10 m circle. This means the horse starts to leave the wall 5 m from short side or 1 m after corner letter.
The most of the problems with riding corners fall into two big categories:
  1. Disregarding corners completely and riding a short side as half of 20 m circle or close to it. This is a very common problem and can be easily observed in barns as a track built into footing that cuts all the corners and looks like oval.
  2. Riding corners, especially, in indoor arenas by simply pushing a horse as deep into it as possible knowing that he will turn anyway because of the wall. This allows the horse to negotiate corners as he sees fit which is not necessarily correct. Most of the time such horses fall onto inside shoulder and lean away from the wall. Yes, they go deep but they are not balanced or bent properly. And taken outside into a proper dressage ring with low fence these horses may feel completely lost on how to do the corners as their riders never learned to ride them.
What are the marks of a well ridden corner?
  • The corner is ridden as a quarter of a circle. From a certain stage of a horse training as a quarter of 6 m volte. As a consequence, aids are the same as for a small circle.
  • The horse is bent matching the curvature of a circle
  • The horse appears light, balanced and engaged. Collecting itself more for a corner without losing activity or impulsion
  • Rider sits vertical and quiet. Guiding his/her horse through the corners without excessive use of aids. In particular, inside rein.
Exercises to develop better corners:
  • Riding a small circle in each corner. Depending on your horse's training you can go with 10 m, 8 m or 6 m volte. Use the circle to notice how you negotiate the corner after you have done the circle. It will give you a very good feedback on what to do and what to correct. Repeat the circle at the same corner if necessary
  • Entering a corner in shoulder-fore or shoulder-in position. It will give you a clear understanding if your horse wants to cut corners and lean in. Also, bending will be more accentuated. However, as soon as your horse's head starts looking along the next wall start straightening your horse. Continuing the shoulder-in now you run the risk of letting his haunches swing out or shoulders fall inside after corner
  • Riding proper corners away from short sides and may be even away from all sides and guiding your horse precisely. Use traffic cones or pylons to give you visual guideness
  • Riding more small circles anywhere in the arena including quarter lines, center line, diagonal lines
  • Riding 3-4 loop serpentines by making them more rectangular in shape, creating corners at each turn rather than half-circles
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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