Sideways and Circles

So often riders have told me that their horse falls in on one rein or out on another, they can do a lateral movement one way and not the other; and no matter what they do they can’t fix it.

However when we then assess the rider we almost always find some sort of asymmetry or uneven weight distribution.

This of course then transfers to the horse and then exacerbates further on a turn, circle or lateral aid so whilst that rider thinks they are giving perfect aids both ways and the horse is ignoring them one way they are actually giving different aids for each rein.

So if this is you it’s time to stop blaming your horse and have a really in depth look at Exactly what You  as you give these aids.

Starting straight on and from neutral-first we must establish neutral.

  • Can you feel both your seat bones equally? Are your feet equal weight in your stirrups?
  • Is your rib cage directly over your pelvis –or try sternum in line with pubic bone. That is front to back and left to right? Do you arch, hollow or tip to one side?
  • Is your head floating on top of your neck, central and looking ahead?
  • Are your hands equal weight, height and length on the reins?

It is really useful to have someone on the ground to help you with this as often what we think is happening is not necessarily the case. We wouldn’t be fluffing our circles if it was would we!

Now in a walk start a 20m circle and run through the check list again. You see the idea is not to lean to the inside and motor bike around the corners. It is perhaps useful to imagine you are on train tracks and as they run around a circle they still stay equal distance apart and you remain equally attached to them.

As you turn; your body will turn with your horse so in fact you stay in neutral together around the circle.

  • Are your seat bones still equally weighted?
  • Are your feet equal weights in the stirrups?
  • Is your rib cage directly over your pelvis?
  • Are you still looking straight ahead?
  • Are your hands level?

Try it again in a leg yield. Using leg yield right as an example.

  • Can you open your right hip slightly to allow the horse to step over?
  • Is your rib cage still facing the front?
  • Are you still equal length front to back and left to right?


Again it is really useful to get someone to watch this. If that’s not possible I often set my phone up in the corner of the arena and video myself to watch back afterwards-it’s brutally useful!

If you can keep everything in balance throughout on both reins I guarantee there will be an improvement in how your horse performs them.

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