Dressage Training Tips – Riding Circles

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Published: 13th August 2010
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Learn how to ride and train a good dressage circle. It is a combination of the rider training the horse to be supple and balanced in the circle and then the rider performing an accurate circle.

How often do you train circles when preparing for a dressage competition?

There is more to riding circles than just getting higher scores in dressage competitions. Riding circles have great advantages in having your horse supple and balanced when you are riding. You can have more fun and do more things with your horse. Riding good circles are a great way to train your horse to be supple and balanced. It is easy to plan your training to include circles of different kinds in your training program. It helps a lot if you have some markers around the circle. Then you can clearly see where you are going.

How do you ride a good circle?

Remember that you are your horse's riding partner. So think about the part that you play in riding good circles. What about your position? Are you supple and balanced as a rider? Check that. Sit straight and tall, have your shoulders square with your horse's shoulders and that your hips are aligned with your riders hips. Make sure you look ahead - look where you are going!

Use your inside hand to show your horse the way. Ask him/her for a slight bend to the inside of the circle with your rein aid. Your outside hand softens slightly to allow your horse to bend his/her neck in that direction. Think of how the neck can flow around the curve of the circle line.

Use your inside leg placed at the girth to remind your horse to keep going forward. Sometimes lazy horses use a change in direction like a circle as a good excuse to slow down and have a rest! Keep your leg on to keep the impulsion so that your horse keeps going forward. Remember forward first! Your outside leg stays slightly behind the girth so that the flow that you started with the head and neck continues through your horse's body. A well ridden dressage circle means that your horse's quarters don't swing away from that line of flow. The result of riding good circles - a balanced and supple horse!

What kind of circles do you ride and how well will they score in your next dressage competition?

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