Exercise No. 3: Diamonds
By interspersing tiny straight lines along
the curve of the circle, this exercise
helps riders coordinate the interplay
of inside and outside aids. It nearly
always improves the accuracy of circles,
particularly because it sharpens your
navigation by using cone markers.
This exercise is especially useful
for horses that ride stiffer and more
crooked in one direction; it allows
them to benefit from the circle
without getting resistant about the
challenges of a continuous curved line.
❚ Place cones as noted in the diagram.
❚ Proceed around the “circle” in
working trot or canter.
❚ Ride directly from each cone to the
next one without allowing your line
of travel to curve outward.
❚ Continue riding from cone to cone,
aiming to hit them like targets.
❚ After three or four times around
your figure like this, now ride a circle
around the outside of the cones. It
should feel easy after the diamond!
A circle seems so simple, but the
gymnastic value of circles for horses is
what makes them so difficult. Without
symmetrical muscling, many horses
will create compromised ways of riding
around circles. In fact, many of them
will become anxious or tense when
they feel the rider prepare for a circle.
And unfortunately, many of us guide
our horses to poor circles because of
uncoordinated aids or timing.
By riding circles on a daily basis,
both horse and rider improve. The
caveat, though, is that this happens
only by practicing the best circles
possible. These featured exercises will
help you do just that. By reinventing
the circle, your riding finesse will
grow and your horse’s mental and
physical balance will improve. So,
JEC ARISTOTLE BALLOU is the author of 101
Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider and
Equine Fitness. www.jecballou.com