Riding A Perfect Circle

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Have you ever noticed how much time trainers spend on their horses doing circle work?  Have you ever wondered why we would put so much effort into riding perfect circles?  When a horse and rider are able to create a perfect circle, the horse is getting the maximum benefit of the minutes spent in that shape.  One of my all-time favorite horseman, George Morris, stated at a clinic, “Riding a horse on a circle creates an added workload similar to us riding a bike up a hill against the wind.”  The rider’s ability to keep the horse’s body shaped throughout the circle exercise is critical to achieve a balanced horse.  In my lessons, when I start a student’s first circle lesson I always say, “I know riding a circle sounds easy, but it is NOT!”  Many of my horse friends come to me to learn how to simplify what they are embarrassed to admit they cannot achieve: that perfect circular shape.

I rode circles a lot when I was young.  I also encouraged and coached my own daughters to ride perfect circles while they were training their young show horses.  My daughters often rode in a big open field near our house.  If you didn’t know that people had been riding horses there, you would’ve thought that aliens had landed in the tall grass and created all the perfectly cut out circles!  That’s how many circles my daughters rode.  I wish I had an arial photo of that field…it really was impressive.

I am proud to say that their hard work led to winning many ribbons, rooms full of ribbons!  One of my most proud moments was when my daughter, Keri, won a state championship horsemanship class on her 3 year old POA pony.  The judge complimented her “trainer”  (that was me!)  on how well she executed perfect circles in the pattern.  Your ability to execute a balanced, perfect circle is so important.

Hang in there with my program that focuses on building your foundation.  Sometimes going slow is really going faster.  That’s something we say in Team Penning and I think it also applies to building a solid riding foundation.  Let me know what you think about the lessons, I love your comments and feedback!