Here is an exercise that my instructor did with me, and that I think might be fun to do with some of your more advanced students!
Bending and Straightening
- 2 poles, 1 in each corner at one end of the arena, as if cutting it off to form a triangle
Skill: Bending & Straitening
- This exercise helps the rider learn how to use the outside aids and inside aids to move the horse through a turn, while alternately bending and straightening.
- This exercise is important because bending requires controlling where the hind legs are, even though while riding we can only see the horse’s forehand.
- Use the leg aids to control the bend, where the hind legs are, and see how close you can get to the pole. Use reins aids to limit the horse’s bend and direct the shoulders. True bend keeps the horse on the same curve as the circle. You don’t want too much bend: the horse’s nose shoulder not pass the inside shoulder. Too much bend in the neck and he may step on or away from the pole.
- Start at the walk.
- Use half the arena, bending through the turns.
- Stay on the outside of the poles. Straighten the horse as you go by each one, trying to get the horse’s inside hind leg as close as possible to the pole, then reestablish bend.
- Now stay on the inside of the poles. Straighten the horse as you go by each pole, trying to get the horse’s outside hind leg as close as possible to the pole, then reestablish bend.
- Ride outside of first pole, inside of second.
- Ride inside of first pole, outside of second.
- Return to just outside of poles.
- Repeat the other direction.
- Repeat at the trot, and event the canter.
I found this activity especially helpful for differentiating between inside and outside aid use, and coordinating them all, and how to adjust a horse between straight and bending.
Lastly, that’s a lot of sad arena. Let’s end on a happy note!
Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgment!