This is a great warm-up exercise that can be used when you're riding in a tight area due to snow, mud or daylight. This exercise helps bring your horse onto your aids, create lightness and work the hindquarters. From a fitness standpoint, it targets the horse's adductor muscles, which are crucial for any type of bending including small circles and lateral movement.
- Begin at K in a Medium Walk.
- At E, halt quietly.
- Ride a 180 degree Turn on Haunches.
- Ride straight ahead in Medium Walk, bending nicely through the corner.
- At A, halt.
- Ride a 180 degree Turn on Forehand.
- Repeat pattern in both directions.
When executing this exercise keep the following in mind:
- Clarify your aids. Your cue for turning on the forehand needs to be very distinct from turning on the haunches. This might sound like a simple point to make, but many riders are unsure about what, exactly, the aids for each kind of turn should be. Be prepared the clearly answer the question: what aids do you give for each turn?
- Take your time. Don't rush these turns. Ride them as if you could halt your horse at any point during his stride. If he falls out of alignment, swings the wrong end around or braces up, stop immediately. Ask him to halt for a second and re-group, then begin the turn again with balance and clarity.
- Address asymmetry. Your horse will likely make better turns in one direction than the other. Do your best to fix this, even if it means getting off and schooling the turns from the ground.
For more exercises, visit JecBallou.com.