These three exercises will make you
rethink the way you use circles.
BY JEC A. BALLOU
Anyone who rides for any length of time quickly realizes the value of circles. This simple tool develops ymmetry in the horse’s spinal stabilizing muscles, creates flexi- bility through his trunk, and helps him become more balanced, not o mention it can also help calm
down his emotions when needed.
The circle’s value, though, is only achieved when ridden
well. And every equestrian can agree that riding a perfectly
round circle in a rhythmic gait is harder than it seems.
Getting it Round
So how can we go about improving egg-shaped figures, or
ones with varying speeds from start to finish? I find that
riders don’t necessarily make progress when they repeat
dozens of circles trying to make them better.
Instead, using some key exercises to help approach
circles more effectively does the trick. The following three
exercises can help guide you to make circles that are not
only more technically correct but also more gymnastically
beneficial for your horse.
Accurate geometry matters because it ensures the horse
consistently employs the targeted muscle groups for the
duration of the circle. When a figure gets wobbly or disorganized, the horse alters which muscles he uses every few
seconds. No gains are made in the intended areas of his
musculoskeletal system. A correctly round circle causes the
horse to engage the postural muscles that stabilize his spine
while in motion.