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Table of Contents


Introduce yourself to your rider ie: Hello, my name is Wendy, and I will be your coach.  Today is your first lesson at Wattle Creek.  Have you ridden before?”  This question allows the rider to declare at what level they are at – if they have had any experience. Check that rider is in correct boots (small heel with a flat sole) and that helmet is worn correctly (no movement when head shakes, chin strap firm) Check the riders clothing is correct – this is covered in the Enrolment / Waiver Form that is signed off.



Explain how to lead a horse correctly – near side, how the reins are held, to walk at the shoulder of the horse and how to move off and stop the horse.  Ask the rider to lead the way and lead the horse into the round yard. Pick up mounting block as you walk in and stop horse in centre of mounting yard. Ask rider to hold horse at near shoulder and close the gate.  Always keep your eyes on the horse and rider. Take the horse back off the rider.

(Next lesson, if ready, the rider may lead the horse to the round yard.  This allows the rider to communicate with the horse before mounting.)

Go on to explain the safety gear – helmet and boots and why we wear them.  Demonstrate how to check the girth and stirrups and how to adjust them before mounting.


Always with a mounting block.

Explain the basic parts of the saddle and bridle and how to mount on the nearside.  For experienced beginners who can mount without support hold the horse by the cheek strap and support the saddle by the stirrup on the offside as the rider mounts.  For the first few times stay behind the rider as they mount, ready to give them support into the saddle if they look like they will not make it up – always use an open hand and only touch them on the hip – state: “if you need help, I will give you a gently push” This gives them warning that you may touch them.

Once mounted alter stirrup leathers if needed – explain what you are doing as you go.

Put the horse on the lunge and explain how the lunging gear works.

  • coach has control of the speed and direction of the horse
  • horse works in a large circle around the coach

Be thorough and safe but this phase of the lesson should take no more than 5 mins, remember lessons are only 30 or 45mins long.


 Whilst at the halt, explain where the rider sits in the centre of the saddle (deepest part) not at the back of the seat. Tell them to wriggle their bottoms and feel their tail bone – it feels like two bones – that is the base of the triangle on which we balance our seat.  The other point is their fork (pubic bone).  Their weight should be 90% on their tail bone and 10% on the pubic bone.


Go on to explain the upright position and centre of balance ie “If I had a ruler I would be able to draw a straight line from your ear to your shoulder, through your elbow, hip and to the heel (ankle not back on heel).” – CENTRED BALANCE. Demonstrate your centred balance as you stand and what would happen to you if your legs came forward – you would fall on your bottom.

Make sure the rider is not collapsed through their mid-drift. Tell them to feel as though they have a string tied to their helmet and it is pulling them upward. 

Before moving off put the reins correctly in the rider’s hands and get them to also hold the monkey grip (or pommel), show the line from elbow, hand along rein to bit.

Explain what the movement of the horse walking off is going to feel like, “I am going to move the horse forward now so be ready to follow the movement of the walk as we move off”.

To give the rider a sense of control – briefly explain the halt and get the rider to do a basic halt (with the coach only 1m away and supporting the halt aid) – repeat this 2 – 3 times. This gives the rider the knowledge that, in an emergency they do have the skills to stop. Once they feel this take the reins off the rider, knot them, and then buckle the end around the monkey grip, again explaining that the rider can retake the reins at any stage to stop the horse. 

Never allow a rider to sit on a horse without reins.

Note – make sure that you change sides whilst training on the lunge atleast twice on both sides.



At first stay close to the rider, about 2 meters away as this gives them confidence, as they relax you can move further away. At the walk – allow the rider to get used to the movement of the horse. Explain the footfalls of the walk, how long the average stride is (90cm – 120cm)), no moment of suspension, the footfalls are in the sequence of the letter N. What is a good walk, what is a too slow walk, let them feel both.  Start using tempo when you use the word speed.

Get them to feel the front foot falls – concussion

Look at the shoulder moving with the leg (foundation knowledge for trot)

Close their eyes and let them guess which hoof is hitting the ground

Count the back foot falls for them – no concussion just a lift, what are the rider’s hips doing as they follow the hind legs movement.

Get the rider to guess when which hind foot is on the ground in the walk.

Children riders can do exercises like Around the World at this point.

Prepare the rider for the moment of the halt – tell them what to expect and how to balance through it. Then Halt.

Briefly explain “upward and downward transitions” Transitions between the paces.  Walk to trot, trot to canter – upward. Canter to trot, trot to walk, walk to halt – downward.

All new / important information is given by coaches to pupils at the halt


Explain the foot falls of the trot – 2 beat – diagonal, letter X with a moment of suspension. How long the average stride is, a bouncier movement than the walk. 

First, we learn to sit to the trot, and then we learn to rise to the trot. 

Demonstrate the movement of the sitting trot with your own body. Get the rider to put their fingers into the pommel of the saddle or the monkey grip so they can  hold themselves into saddle for the first few strides, once they get used to the movement ask rider to relax their grip and allow their bodies to follow the trot movement, still holding on and then slowly allow the rider to rely less on their hands holding them in the saddle and more on their balance, following the trot movement with a relaxed body – leaning back slightly to keep the lumbar curved (shoulders just behind the hips) – this keeps the rider from getting in front of the movement.  Trot the horse for only short periods of trot to begin with, and then as their balance improves, lengthen the periods of trot until the rider can achieve ½ circle, then a full circle etc. Constantly give positional corrections. Focus on rider’s weight in stirrups and seat bones.

Work on relaxing the rider with each trot, get them to relax their hips, thighs, knees, allowing them to follow the movement – to relax then ease their hands off the saddle – this takes lots of concentration to relax – do it with the inside hand first, then swap it to the outside hand then ease both hands but leave them resting on the pommel or monkey grip for security.  Most riders will get to this level by their first lesson. 

There is no sit trot before or after rising trot.  Trot to walk – Rise trot up to the first step of walk. Walk to trot – rise trot immediately (no sitting) into trot.



Let the rider and horse have a cool down and this is where you have a talk with the rider – how do they feel, what was hard for them what you as the coach felt they did the best.  Never use negatives. IE. “Your lower leg was very wobbly” should be said as “next lesson we are going to work on your lower legs keeping them more stable against the horse’s side” Always end on a positive note.  “Great riding today, your hands have improved since your last lesson”



Ask the rider how they felt after their last lesson – this gives you a good indication on how flexible and fit the rider is and how much the rider took in and understood.

Ask the rider to check the horse’s girth and stirrup irons are at the correct length.  Then help the rider to mount with mounting block.

Note – make sure that you change sides whilst training on the lunge.

  • Start with a selection of exercises. This will take much less time as you will not need to explain them but just revise enough so the rider remembers how to do them.



Towards the end of the lesson introduce the use of the reins.  This is a good exercise to introduce next if your rider is physically tired from the sitting trot.

On the lunge at halt give the rider the reins.

  • Revise the correct way to hold the reins and ensure that the contact is not too tight. When the rider is not “talking” to the horse the rein must be loose with no contact. At this stage these riders do not have enough balance to maintain a correct contact – they will end up holding onto the reins like a handle and balance on them and the horse’s mouth instead of developing their own centered balance.
  • Explain the line from the elbow, hand to bit again. Explain why to hight or to low hands do not work.
  • The position of the hands should horizontally level and the width of the horse’s bit apart (demonstrate) – no hand higher than the other or in front of the other.
  • The length of rein should be above and infront of the wither.
  • Once this has been established, using the lunge, take the horse out onto the circle in walk.
  • Ask the rider take up contact with the horse’s mouth by putting weight through the elbow until they can feel through the reins the bit on the horse’s lips and mouth then ease.
  • Ask the rider to do several halt walk transitions (the coach is really controlling the horse here but the rider is building confidence).  

               –  Prepare, prepare then execute the halt.  It may take several ‘prepares’ to begin with.

  • If the rider’s skill level (balance) is ready ask for a few transitions of sitting trot, walk, sitting trot. Only a few strides of sit trot before they become unbalanced as they will then lean on their hands and it will not be a great outcome as the horse goes onto the forehand.
  • Demonstrate the movement of the rider’s elbow opening and closing (soft joint not rigidly locked) to allow the hands to stay still & soft in the trot.
  • Emphasis is on easing the contact wherever possible.
Possible problems:
  • Reins are too long.
  • Rider will not take up enough contact for fear of hurting the horse or too much contact
  • Riders hands come up and apart.

To steady the rider’s hands while still holding the reins, get the rider to hold the outside rein’s monkey grip.



To ask the horse to move left and right.

  • Taught on the lunge in the round yard.
  • This exercise is firstly taught at the halt and then performed at the walk. Once the rider is confident / competent move into the trot.
  • Teach the “Direct Rein”. (Open the door, close the door) At the halt put a crop under the thumbs of the rider with soft contact on the horse’s mouth. The crop should be parallel to the ground and at right angles to the neck. Get the rider to move one hand at a time by running their thumb along the whip horizontally. This is how the rein aid is used for the beginner. The opposite hand stays firm at the wither.
  • In halt, practice with the crop, then remove the crop and practice – the opening hand only opens until a desired response has been received by the horse – ie he starts to turn. Once the desired amount of turning has been achieved the hands must return to the wither. Do not overdue this exercise at the halt as there is little or no forwardness being asked by the leg aids at this point so the horse will find this difficult if repeated too many times.
  • Once the rider understands the principals behind the opening rein move into walk. Practice in walk, on the lunge then remove the lunge.  Set up cones for the rider to practice on.  You may need to support the forward aids as the rider focuses on the rein aids.

The coach can use their control over the horse to assist with the steering without the rider being aware to help build the rider’s confidence.  

Remember the horse will not turn if it is not going forward first.  Send the horse forward then ask for the turn. Send forward then turn, send forward then turn, send forward then turn

Possible problems:
  • The opposite hand gives the rein therefore not supporting the opening rein and horse will fall out though the outside shoulder or just turn his head but not his body.
  • The horse loses activity and grinds to a halt – not enough leg. Coach may support the rider’s forward aids until skill develops.
  • Always send horse forward first then steer. Forward, steer. Forward, steer etc…
  • The rider draws hand back and down blocking the horse and he stops
  • Bring the horse to the halt – Always explain new skills at the halt so you have most of the riders brain on you.
  • Explain the meaning of “Upward Transition” and ”Downward Transition” A Transition is the change of pace. An upward transition is from halt to walk; walk to trot; trot to canter and a downward transition is from canter to trot; trot to walk and walk to halt.


To achieve an Upward Transition (go faster):
  • The rider must first get the attention of the horse by vibrating or talking down the reins (this may be supported by legs, voice or whip aids)
  • Check length of/shorten reins
  • Sit tall, open knees and stretch in the stirrups with soft legs, then
  • Apply the leg aids at the girth
  • Allow the horse to forward by easing the rein pressure remaining centred
To achieve a Downward Transition
  • The rider must first get the attention of the horse by vibrating or talking down the reins (this may be supported by legs, voice or whip aids)
    • Sit tall, open knees and stretch in the stirrups with soft legs, then
  • Apply the leg aids at the girth
  • Hold and give with the reins within the rhythm of the pace, asking the horse to slow down, slow down until they transition.

Get your rider reciting these points like a mantra

Ensure that the rider understands that both upwards and downwards transitions are ridden ‘forward’.

Possible problems:
  • Do not allow a backward movement of the hands – it is a hold and give not a pull back.
  • Make sure the rider sits tall but soft in the saddle with weight into the stirrups and does not rock forward or “pump” their seat.
  • Most riders will tense their buttocks and leverage into their stirrups. This drives the horse forward. The horse hears two aids applied at once (go and stop) and will chose the aid he wants to do.
  • Once the horse halts ensure the rein aids ease instantly, do not let the rider “hang” on the reins.
  • Once at the halt don’t let the rider slump, keep them tall in the saddle.

Revise both transitions in point form then move the horse out onto the circle and halt the horse. 

Ask the rider to “Prepare to Walk” and on my command “Walk” Prepare to Halt and on my command “Halt”, prepare to Trot and on my command “Trot” etc.  Run up and down from halt to trot until the rider gets the feel for the aids. Don’t forget the positional corrections – if the lower leg is not in the correct position at the girth the horse will not respond cleanly to the aid.

Rider’s arms get tired and they tend to hang them on the horses mouth. Keep a keen eye on this and tell them to carry their own arms.

A Typical Rider Warm Up              

From this lesson on a typical off the lunge “Rider Warm-up” takes place.   

  • A forward walk on a long rein for two circles, take up a light contact and change the rein within the circle and repeat on the other rein.   
  • Take up a light contact for the rider’s level and proceed to working trot rising for 2 circles (try to aim for the horse to track into or just behind the front hoof print – no jog trot), change the rein within the circle in walk only. 
  • At this point if the rider is still tight through the seat select one of the supplying exercises.

Revise and develop the sitting trot – Hands on the pommel/ monkey grip, at first, until they have achieved their balance – work towards slowly easing the pressure off holding on to the saddle until they can hold their hands in the position for reins but without the reins. Rider can steady their hands by placing lowering their hands onto the pommel whilst still holding the reins correctly (This may take several more lessons to achieve).  Change rein. 


Bring to halt remove horse from lunge (leave on if rider is nervous). Revise the aids for upward and downward transitions. Demonstrate how to allow the horse forward by a give in the rein from the elbow. Demonstrate how to hold and give – ask – the horse with the reins to slow.

Prepare, prepare, execute. 

Slow the horse, slow the horse, halt

Squeeze/give, squeeze/give, squeeze/give

No holding onto the horse’s mouth

No pulling back. Down or up.

Ask the rider to hold the reins and pretend their hands is then bit in the horse’s mouth. The coach can ten demonstrate the pressure and time required for the –

Prepare, prepare, execute. 

Slow the horse, slow the horse, halt

Squeeze/give, squeeze/give, squeeze/give

Send horse and rider onto the circle at walk.  Walk must be active with hind legs stepping through (over tracking preferred). To halt from the hind quarters the horse must have a marching walk. Then ask rider to prepare the walk for halt and then halt.

Repeat upward and downward aids 3 – 4 times – walk halt, walk halt etc then move to walk trot for 3 – 4 times.  The repetition will allow the horse and rider to refine their communication together.

Pebble Exercise 
  • Find a small stone or pebble and place one in each hand of the rider – this will encourage the rider to keep their hands as a soft ‘fist’ 
  • Devise simple fines for when the rider drops of the pebble or get them to beat their personal best ie for 1 circle, for 3 circles 

Explain the movement of the horse’s top line in walk ie: stretching forward with each stride and how the rider, to maintain even, constant contact must follow this movement. Get the rider to pretend his hands are the horse’s mouth and the coach takes hold of the reins before the bit – this time the coach moves the reins back and forward simulating the movement of the horse’s head in walk (top line movement). This gives the rider the feel of the contact they need to acquire with the horse’s mouth. At this level the rider will not be able to follow this movement, but they must understand what they are trying to achieve – If the rider cannot keep their hands level use a short stick under the thumbs to level their hands (this is very good exercise in the trot).  

Take the horse out onto the circle (coach to stay within 2 meters of the horse & rider) and allow the rider to observe then try and move with the top line in walk.   



Develop upward and downward transitions to help achieve balance. 

Upward Transition 
  • The rider must first get the attention of the horse by vibrating or talking down the reins (this may be supported by legs, voice or whip aids) 
  • Check length of/shorten reins 
  • Sit tall/weight into stirrups, soften knees and thighs
  • Stretch tall, apply the hold/give, hold/give within the rhythm of the pace
    • Prepare, prepare, execute.
    • Slow the horse, slow the horse, halt
    • Squeeze/give, squeeze/give, squeeze/give
Possible problems: 
  • Ensure the rider is not relying on the reins to balance. 
  • Ensure that the lower leg is in the correct position and is steady – check that the riders’ sole of the rider’s boots are parallel to the ground (ankles can roll inwards or outwards) – if the outside of the foot is raised higher than the inside it means that the rider has to much weight on the inside and visa versa.  The weight should be evenly distributed across the ball of the foot.  The knee should be always in alignment with the rider’s toe. This means the ankle joint is square. 
  • Rider hands blocking or moving backwards in the transition – as the rider asks with their leg aids the rein aids must ease and follow forward with the new pace. 
  • Tight buttocks and thighs driving the horse forward – using this as leverage when they apply the rein “hold” aid.
  • Pumping with their seat – use the whip to support leg aids.  Ask the horse once with legs to move forward, ask a second time – if no response use the whip only to send the horse forward.  DO NOT ALLOW THE RIDER TO USE LEG & WHIP AT THE SAME TIME 
Downward Transition  
  • The rider must first get the attention of the horse by vibrating or talking down the reins (this may be supported by legs, voice or whip aids) 
    • Sit tall/weight into strirrups, soften knees and thighs
    • Stretch tall, apply the hold/give hold/give within the rhythm of the pace
  • Prepare, prepare, execute.
  • Hold (not pull back) with the reins – then allow as the horse responds, remaining centred. 

Get your rider reciting these points fluently. 

Ensure that the rider understands that both upwards and downwards transitions are ridden ‘forward’. 


Transitions at Specific Markers 

As the riders communication skills improve with their horse, select two cones or letter they must do the movement by – “Between A and F, working trot rising” As they improve you can make an actually letter or cone the rider must achieve the upward or downward transition on. Explain that the ideal is for the transition to happen as the rider is level (as their shoulder’s pass not the horses head) with the cone/arena letter.


Possible problems: 

Count how many steps it takes for an upward and downward transition.  Ie it takes 4 steps to achieve a halt.  Therefore, the rider must ask four steps before the marker to achieve an accurate halt.  The same applies for an upward transition. 



The rider must hold the whip when off the lunge. The school horses are trained with the whip to stop inexperienced riders from kicking the horses instead of tapping the horses.

Use crop first, when skills are ready use dressage whip 

Whip techniques             

  1. Handling around the horse, 
  2. Mounting & Dismounting 
  3. Carrying whilst mounted,  
  4. Changing from one side to the other,  
  5. When leading the horse.  

The whip is an artificial aid – it is used to back-up and re-enforce the leg aids to go forward – it is not used as a punishment. 

  • Explain how the whip fits in the rider’s hand with the reins and it lies across the thigh just above the knee.   
  • It can be used on the shoulder, on the rider’s boot or behind the rider’s leg when required.  
  • To use the whip the riders rotates the wrist and should not make any backward movement with the hand as this contradicts the forward signal.  
  • Demonstrate this action for the rider. If the rider has difficulty with this, then both reins should be held in the non-whip hand, and the whip applied with the other hand. 
Possible problems: 
  • Changing the dressage whip from side to side should not be taught at this point as the rider will be too overwhelmed as they are just learning how to hold it. This can be taught in the next few lessons. 


Complete Rider Log while lesson is fresh in your mind. 



Start the sitting trot by revising how to follow the movement, demonstrating the movement again from the ground.  Whilst doing the sitting trot, using the pommel or monkey grip as support, get them to slowly ease off the pressure from their fingers – relying more on their balance. 

Keep shoulders slight behind the line of hip – curving the lumbar which will flex and bounce better for the sit trot.

This lesson we want to move forward to a larger stride more toward a working trot. 

Start the rider on the smaller trot and explain the difference between the two trots (shorter stride and longer/bigger stride).  Before moving to a few strides of bigger trot explain the use of the lower leg (tap from the knee using the inner calf – not a kick, not a squeeze but on then off) at the girth and not back in the horse’s belly – asks the horse to move forward – creates power. Get the rider to ask for the bigger trot.

If riders have tight knees it is impossible for them to have their lower leg on.

Explain about horse’s behaviour – horses are driven by food and comfort. Lower leg comes onto the horse the horse’s moves forward to move away from the pressure – comfort

Length of stirrup is important here.  The stretches in the warmup will lengthen the rider’s leg resulting in the stirrup leathers needing to be lengthened.  Too short leathers do not give the rider the freedom to keep the lower leg under their bottom and the rider rises too high in the rising trot.

Don’t forget to change rein for both horse and rider’s benefit. Constantly give positional corrections. 

Give plenty of positive comments as this stage is very frustrating for the rider.

Possible problems:
  • Make sure the rider does not hang on to the horse with their thighs and knees. This pushes the rider up and out of the saddle and takes the lower leg off. Ask the rider to relax buttocks, hips, thighs and knees.  Hang the leg out of the hips. Deep breathing is good to relax the rider at this point.
  • As the stride increases so will the tension in the rider – get them to relax and as they do so lengthen the horse’s strides into the bigger movement.
  • Correct riders that may lean into the centre of the circle or in on corners – lateral bend.
  • Keep ride’s shoulders slightly behind the line of hips
  • Lots of riders hold their breath so periodically tell them to take a deep breath. If they do not relax, they will not be able to accomplish following this movement.

Constantly do positional corrections.



Put the horse back on to the lunge and take the reins off the rider.

  • Explain the footfalls of the trot – the diagonals and the 2 beats. The average length of stride.
  • Demonstrate from the ground the rising trot and how it compares to the sitting trot.
  • Whilst at the halt get the rider to rise 10 times making sure that the lower leg is in the correct position for support – do not let the rider bounce of drop heavily onto the horses back. Put your hand on the seat of saddle and get your rider to tap your hand not sit on your hand.
  • Exercise – Move the rider’s lower legs forward (the armchair position), in front of the girth and ask the rider to rise, then back behind the girth and let the rider compare the three. It will be much easier with the lower leg underneath the rider’s body in the correct line giving the rider much more control of their upper body – Centred Balance.
  • Ask the rider to take hold of the pommel, monkey grip for support or for an adult, the
  • market-harbourer strap, put the horse into trot and count 1,2,1,2,1,2…. to the beat of the trot. Do not say up, down, up, down.  You may say rise, and rise but not rise, sit. Rise, touch is good.
  • Keep a check on the lower leg as it will slowly move forward. The lower leg may also move back and forward as they rise – this means they are not keeping their weight in the stirrup but putting it into the seat of the saddle.  The low leg will stay steady with little or no movement when the riders weight stays in the stirrup continuously.
  • The hip should roll forward out of the saddle with the minimum lift out of the saddle – hip towards hands.
  • The upper body should be inclined slightly forward at first – not leaning forward though.
  • The shoulder should be no further forward than the rider’s knee.
Possible Problems:
  • If the rider bounces as he meets the seat, it is because he is sitting for 2 beats. As soon as he meets the seat he should be rising again – most riders are too slow to rise again at first.
  • If the rider has a lot of trouble getting the rise, get them to stay rising (not to sit) and put the horse into trot – get the rider to balance in the rise, absorbing the bounce through the ankle, knee and hip joint, then after a circle or two let the start the rising trot – reverse engineer it.

If the rider keeps their balance and rhythm of the rising trot, get him/her to hold onto the pommel with their inside hand and with their outside hand, point to the horses inside ear with a straight arm. This will help them follow the movement around the circle and improve their balance before they remove their hands from the pommel. 

  • Once the rider has the rhythm of the rising trot, ease their hands off the pommel and put their arms and hands into the position as if they were holding the reins – a small stick or crop may be used between the thumb of each hand to help achieve a steady hand position.


Skill Development for the Sitting and Rising Trot
  • Sitting trot and rising trot – use cones to count strides within a ¼ circle then ask the rider to do a bigger trot (less strides within the ¼ circle) Get the rider to compete against their personal best. Ie from 10 strides to 9 strides. Don’t forget to change rein. Pick the same part of the circle each time.
  • Transitions – work on quality first, then accuracy using specific markers for the transitions to be achieved at.
Shaping for a turn – Neck Bend (beginner level)
  • Demonstrate from the ground using your body how we prepare the shape of the horse for a turn or to steer. Ask the rider to also demonstrate with the reins without contact or leg aids so you can confirm they understand.
  • At halt ask the rider to neck bend the horse, moment by moment until the desired shape is achieved. Then straighten the horse moment by moment. Practice this from straight to left to straight to right – 2 – 3 times at halt.
  • In walk ask the rider to practice shaping the horse for a turn. Get the rider to steer the horse in and out of the circle as they did for the previous lesson but this time instead of using an open rein ask for the rider to shape the horse’s neck.
  • Once the rider understands how to shape the neck bend, ask them to use their inside leg to bend the horse around. Tap the inside leg to bend the horse’s body then both legs send the horse forward.
  • Explain how the rider’s body turns also and the horse follows this turn – the horse reads the body language of the rider. The rein aids shape the rider’s body and leg aids bend and turn the horses. Demonstrate with your body.
Possible Problems:
  • The rider draws the inside hand back and/or down
  • The rider gives the outside rein away or does not give enough so the horse can lengthen the outside neck.
  • The rider forgets to use their forward leg aids and just uses rein aids
  • The rider pulls the horse into shape instead of incrementally, within the rhythm of the pace, asks the horse to turn.



The Circle, the tangents


Whist at the halt explain the CIRCLE. 

The circle is an infinity shape and has the same aids continuously compared to riding around the outside track that has a corner then a straight then a corner etc.

The circle is made up of four quarters or TANGENT Points (See diagram)     

The rider must ride a curve between each tangent point to make a evenly round circle.  If the horse does an egg shape circle his strides cannot be even therefore his tempo and rhythm cannot be even.  This makes it harder for the rider to balance. If the circle is round, then the horse can achieve even footfalls in his stride and therefore even tempo and rhythm.

The horse bends to conform to the shape of the circle he is riding. This is called a Lateral Bend.  From his tail to his poll matches the radius of the circle being ridden.


 There are two circles in the small arena generally ridden. The outside circle that is 30m in diameter as the small arena is 30m square.

The inside circle which is 20m in diameter and is ridden by using the blue painted lines on the fence line.  You can also cone this up if you wish to.


Large Arena Orientation

  • 20m x 60m Olympic size
  • Short side – 20m. Letters A and C are the centre of the short side. The “centre line” is from A to C
  • Long side – 60m Corner letters are 6ms from the corner, the remainder of the letters are 12m apart. E and B are the centre of the long side
  • Draw a line from A to C and from E to B and this marks X.
  • Going large – riding around the outside track following the wall of the arena
  • Three 20m circles fit in the arena each sharing the centre line tangents.

In the large arena the three main places to ride a 20m circle is at A, B or E and C.                          

Have the circle coned up with tangents and quarter markers at cones and get the rider to ride the circle on the EB line.

  • Halt them at E. Explain the arena letters and their distances. Then walk the circle at E with the rider following behind halting at each tangent and explain the name of each tangent.
  • Get them to ride the circle on their own halting at each tangent and naming it.

E; two meters in (towards X) from P, B, two meters in from S, E.e

  • Get the rider to ride the circle in trot and yell the tangents as they pass them.
  • Change the rein and do it in reverse

E; two meters in (towards X) from R, B, two meters in from V, E

  • Repeat the exercise on both reins on the circle at A:m

A; four meters in from F; two meters in from V; four meters in from K; A

Change rein:

A; four meters in from K; two meters in from P; four meters in from F; A

  • Then the Circle at C:

C; four meters in from M; two meters in from S; four meters in from H; C

Change rein:

C; four meters in from H; two meters in from R; four meters in from M; C