October Exercise – Coming Full Circle

It has been forever since we have done an exercise post here at No Bucking Way. We have so many new exciting ideas for our exercises & with the addition of Cosmo to the gang we have really had to think hard going back revisiting & reviving our older “young horse” exercises.

Prepare to be excited & keep your eyes peeled for Orla’s first Cosmo exercise next week, but up first we have one all about Dante. As hard as it is to say, this is an exercise for the older slightly more experienced horse. I can’t believe I am referring to Dante as Experienced…. What has the world come to!

Don’t worry though, I like to keep my exercises extremely versatile & adjustable, as you know Dante can pick & choose is moods, she if you have a young horse, an older horse, experience or unexperienced keep scrolling to find out all about riding our “Coming Full Circle” exercise!

Side Note: I rode this exercise on Dante wearing my Reinrite training aid. You may have noticed this on Dante the past few weeks. A full review is coming next week, I have been trialing this aid in almost every aspect of our training!

The Set Up

For this exercise, you will need 5 poles, & 3 x cavalletti’s stands to raise your poles in the centre of your arena. Clear your arena/field as best you can, removing any obstacles except for what is laid out in the image below. This is so you can make use of the entire arena & give you and your horse as much space as you can get!

The space between your canter poles should be 10 footsteps. I adjusted mine to 12 as I wanted to push Dante in his canter a little bit whilst still maintaining control.

The Benefits Of This Exercise

  • Improving your canter rhythm
  • Maintaing a steady canter rhythm
  • Improving your horses suppleness
  • Great for improving your horses balance
  • Improves your eye for a stride

Steps For Riding This Exercise

Step 1:

  • As per any of our NBW exercises, we recommend a good 15/20 minute warm up prior to beginning. For this exercise, In my warm up I focused on riding figures of 8 & serpentines in trot, this got Dante bending & flexing around my leg, as well as making him listen & think to the aids I was asking him to do.
  • As I moved on to my canter, getting a forward moving canter from Dante was most important. I focused on pushing on the long sides of the arena & holding on the shorter sides of the arena. This not only wakes Dante up, but it gives me the active canter that I am looking for prior to beginning any pole work exercise.

Step 2:

  • Once you are happy with your warm up, starting this exercise piece by piece is key to nailing it when you come to putting the entire exercise together.
  • See the image below to the left, start by cantering your 20m circle or 15m circle over your ground pole at A. You are looking for a consistant canter here from your horse, no rushing to the pole, no rushing after the pole. A Smooth consistent canter throughout.
  • Your position in the saddle should not change either, you should not treat the ground pole as anything different than a stride for your horse. Stay riding forward, keeping your contact on the reins with your leg still firmly on to keep your horse moving forward.
  • Once you are happy with your horses performance over the single pole at A, then can you begin to piece in the pole at C at the other end of your arena as per the image above on the right. Again ride both circles the exact same. if your legs are not starting to ache at this point you need more leg!

Tip: When you are riding your circle, look to the centre holding your inside rein out away from your horses neck. Having your inside rein opened out will direct your horse to where he should be travelling but it will also automatically position your shoulders correctly moving in the same direction with your horse.

Step 3:

  • Once you are happy with the way your horse is moving over both poles positioned at A&C in your arena, you can then move on to your raised poles positioned at B in the center of your arena. Raised poles should not differ from your ground pole with how you ride into them. Everything stays exactly the same!
  • See the image below. When you are approaching your raised poles, remember that you are riding them on a circle, keep your leg on, holding out your inside rein directing you horse over the poles. Your horse may find this slighty difficult as he has to travel over the poles on a bend, but still keep that consistant canter that you had over the single ground pole as above.
  • Do not look at the poles on the ground, remember to always look to where you are going! Don’t worry if your horse rushes over these poles or gets excited the first few times. Practice this circle until you are happy with your horses & how he approaches in & out of the raised poles before moving any further.

Step 4:

  • Now that you have completed all the above steps, it is time to complete our ” Coming Full Circle” exercise. Please excuse the dodgy diagram for this one! Who knew circles could get so complicated!
  • See the image below. Like in Step 2, begin by riding over your black circle as per the image, ride this no different that you did at the beginning, as you ride out of the black circle, you are then riding up your arena into your second circle, your red circle in the middle.
  • The trick with approaching your middle circle is to anticipate your space, you can make full use of the centre of your arena on your approach to your raised poles. Remember not to look at your poles, when you approach then, but to look ahead of you in the direction you want your horse to go!
  • Finally after you go over your raised poles, ride your circle out on to track moving up the arena again to your green circle at the end of your arena at C.
  • By this stage I found that my body was getting quite fatigued & my legs were aching! So keep your focus & remember as above to keep your forward consistant canter. Look to where you are going always, never at the pole on the ground!

And there you have it! My step by step guide to riding our “Coming Full Circle” exercise. It is tougher than it looks but it is very rewarding once you finish.

If you wish to adjust this exercise for a more unexperienced horse, you can take out the raised poles at B and replace then with a simple ground pole. Or if you wish to make it more difficult you can place 3 raised canter poles at both A & C in your arena instead of the ground poles!

Like I said, it is a very versatile exercise & can be adjusted to meet anyone’s needs. Be sure to give it a try out over the weekend, it is a great winter exercise & extremely simple to set up!

As always, if you have any questions be sure to drop me a PM and I will get back to you asap, but for now fell free to like share & tag your friends, lets get everyone Coming Full circle with this exercise!

As Always, thank you for reading,

Darielle