Monday, October 11, 2010

The elusive circle

I've finally deciphered it.

I knew that the secret to riding a decent circle was in the weight aid, as in putting more weight on the inside seatbone, but I could never get a decent sized circle no matter how hard I tried. Whenever I'd ask Coriander to do that I'd either get a volte or a turn on the haunches. Both of those are good but they weren't what I wanted.

Friday I finally figured out what was going wrong, I was overdoing it. So I decided to try something different and, EUREKA, it worked!

So here it is, my secret to circles (which doubtlessly has been discovered by countless others including people reading my blog):
  • keep your spine straight- do not collapse a hip or drop a shoulder
  • look upward and into the circle, do not look at your horse
  • weight the inside seatbone slightly more than the outside one when the horse's barrel swings to the outside of the circle (when you feel your hip drop to the inside)
  • weight your seatbones evenly when the barrel swings to the inside of the circle
And voila! You'll get a circle without even touching the reins. It's like magic!

I imagine you can accomplish this just by putting more weight in the inside stirrup but I was riding bareback when I figured this out, thus the emphasis on the pelvis.


  1. OK, I am going to try this tonight at lesson. My inside shoulder always collapses when I do circles. I am not sure I understand why you would want to put even more weight on the inside stirrup, though. Wouldn't you want the weight on the outside stirrup to help with balance??

  2. Remembering that I'm not a dressage instructor take this with a grain of salt ;)

    I think that weighting the inside stirrup works the same as weighting the inside seatbone. If you can't get your body to cooperate with the seatbone shift then you can use the stirrup. Don't do both at the same time because you'll pull the horse off balance to the inside. (I weight the outside stirrup if the horse starts drifting into the ring off the rail and it works the same way.)

    It should be a subtle shift, enough to get the horse to move to the inside but not enough to pull them off balance. You're only leaning when the barrel swings out so you're square again on the next stride.

    Think about if you were walking around with a small child on your shoulders. If that kid leans right you're going to move right. If that kid really leans right you might just fall over.

    Really concentrate on keeping your spine straight and not letting that shoulder or hip collapse, that will muddy the aid and confuse the horse.

  3. I think you've found the secret to circles. It's so rewarding when you figure out something for yourself isn't it? I'm always so proud of myself when I solve a problem by myself.

  4. Plus I think when you figure out things for yourself it sticks in your brain better. Though my main reason for this post was to get it written down for my own future reference. That would be a real shame, getting it and then forgetting it.