Staying Straight on Circles

I read an article this week that said research had shown that on their own as much as 98% of Adult horses will not fall in or out on turns and circles, this only happens with a rider on board. This of course leads us to believe that the cause of falling in or out is in fact the rider.

I for one am definitely inclined to agree. So often riders have told me that their horse falls in on one rein or out on another and no matter what they do they can’t fix it. However when we then assess the riders position even on a straight line we almost always find some sort of asymmetry and uneven weight distribution. This of course then transfers to the horse and then exacerbate further on a turn or circle, so whilst that rider thinks they are asking for a perfect right circle what they are actually asking for is too much in with the rein and then sending back out with the seat and many variables of this cause falling in or out with the shoulder, neck and haunches.

So if this is you it’s time to stop blaming your horse and have a really in depth look at Exactly what You do on turns and circles on both reins.

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?

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 the circle on both reins I guarantee there will be an improvement in how your horse performs them.

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