If you’re guilty of shunning your flatwork in favour of something more fun over fences, you’re not alone! However, there’s a lot you can do in your schooling sessions that’ll directly influence you and your horse’s abilities in the air and out on course. By not only incorporating them, but perfecting them, too, you’ll wish you’d put the time in sooner.
One of these simple but super-charged movements? The humble 10m circle. More than just a schooling shape, its benefits are four-fold – it’ll improve your horse’s power, engagement, suppleness and responsiveness. To perform a 10m circle correctly, you’ll need to have full control over every part of his body and ensure he’s hyper-responsive to your aids. The end result being a harmonious partnership that allows you to effortlessly and accurately navigate a dressage test or from fence to fence. So, let’s break it down.
This brilliant exercise utilises a mix of circles and transitions to help you test your horse’s hindleg engagement and boost his response times. Better still, you can make it as easy or challenging as you like depending on his experience.
How to ride it…
- Establish an active working trot and ride large around the arena.
- When you reach your first corner, ride a 10m circle. This’ll engage your horse’s hindleg, test his balance and lift his forehand. Apply a half-halt if you feel him rushing and support him with your leg to maintain the energy.
- As you re-join the track, check that your horse is working forward with an active hindleg by riding a transition, maintaining the new pace for 3–5 strides, before returning to your original tempo. It could be between gaits, such as trot and walk, or within a pace – working to medium trot.
- Continue riding large, including a 10m circle in each corner, switching up the kind of transition you ride each time. If he’s mastered moving between walk and trot, why not try a direct transition to halt next time? The key is to keep your horse thinking and ready for his next instruction.
- Ride the exercise a few times before changing the rein and having a go the other way.
Pick up a copy of September Horse&Rider, on sale 22 July 2021, for more top tips on mastering the 10m circle.