Lesson 5 – Mazes and Stretching

Lesson 5

S shaped maze and circle on a free rein.

S maze

S maze

Today’s lesson centred around the use of a maze as shown above. We used jumping poles to set up the shape.

Once we had warmed up sue asked me to walk Sidney over the poles from all angles. Sometimes we entered the maze and walked over the pole and out sometimes we went over three of the poles. Exercises such as stepping over poles at unrelated distances help to improve proprioception; having a sense of where one is in terms of where the parts of your body are.

We then began to work through the maze. This involved us walking and halting at the bottom. We then had to perform a part turn on the haunches followed by a part turn on the forehand in order to make the turn around. We then had to repeat this at the other two turns. This really made the pair of us think. Not only did I have to think about where Sidney was now but how much of a movement I needed him to make. Once out we turned around and entered the other way, again I rode Sidney actively around the maze, all the time praising him for correct moves.

The third time into the maze sue asked me to let Sidney do it himself with me indicating direction with my seat but no other aids. This is not an easy exercise, many of us are guilty of over-riding where we tell our horses exactly where and how we what them to be. I could really feel how Sidney was trying to work this out and how quickly he learnt what to do.

We then added a few complications such as trot strides within the maze and halt trot transitions.

We left the maze and began work on the movement from intro b test of riding a twenty metre circle in trot with stretch. We began working on riding a perfect circle, not a square or a diamond but a circle! At each point I have to visualise what I want from Sid and to adjust my weight in the direction in which he needs to move to ensure the correct movements to make the circle.

We started on a 2 contact and as we rode each circle we let more rein out. Eventually riding the circle on the buckle. The aim is to use weight aids to maintain direction whilst allowing stretch but maintaining horizontal balance. Not an easy combination to achieve!

Sid beginning to stretch on the trot circle.  Still in good horizontal balance.

Sid beginning to stretch on the trot circle. Still in good horizontal balance.

Sid is better at this to the left than right but eventually managed on both reins with a satisfactory result.