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Two Minute Training Tips - Better Riding with P.O.T – R&R 1

Now let’s combine R&R – Rhythm and Regularity with an eye-opening exercise I like to call "count the slices of pie." First of all, pie, mmm, yum. Makes me happy to say pie. You can have pie after this exercise.

Mark out a circle in your arena preferably 20 m to start. Cut the circle in 4 quarters like a pie and mark those 4 points. Start at a walk and count the front legs of the horse between each point and start counting 1-2-3-4, etc. Try to count to the same amount for each section of the circle or piece of the pie. As you go around each time adjust your horse and your aids to keep the circle count equal in all 4 sections of the pie. Then try to make the circle smaller by 3-6 feet as you spiral in and then count the steps on the smaller slices of the circle. Notice how the count changes - instead of 15 - 20 steps or so on the 20 m circle maybe your horse takes 6 or 7 steps on the 10 m circle. Mark out the dimensions with cones if you need to ‘see’ it to improve your accuracy on each quarter of the pie and then try it again without the cones. Mix up walk, trot and canter in this exercise and don’t forget to change direction! Then challenge yourself by changing the count on purpose – create as many steps as you can by using a regular series of repeating half halts but maintain enough leg to keep the gait going - as the stride shortens the horse takes more steps from one quarter of the circle to the next. Then make as few steps as possible by pushing the horse to longer strides but still maintain the rhythm of the gait – don’t push so hard the trot loses its two beat rhythm. And, don't half halt so much the canter goes flat. It's a simple exercise that you can gauge how steady your horse is and how much you can change that steadiness and rhythm and also get to think about pie!

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