Be aware of the activity

Carl Hester had been in Australia doing a clinic and in one of the many blog posts about it I saw a quote of his that said: "how many strides do you ride in a 20 meter circle? You need to know." After reading this I realised that I actually don't know exactly how many strides I ride in a 20m circle on both my boys, I mean I can guess but I'm not totally sure... πŸ€” So off I went the next time I rode and I counted how many strides I ride in a circle in both trot and canter on both boys in trot and canter .... And yeah, I've had to work really hard over the last few weeks to perfect my circles so that they stay consistently nearly the same amount of strides and don't vary too much!

Another exercise that was mentioned was to ride the short sides of the arena and focusing on changing the amount of strides, first riding it in seven strides, then the next time riding in ten strides because this helps the rider be aware of the activity of the horse. This was a super exercise that I had never done before and I'm so happy that I spotted this article on Facebook (I wanted to link it here but I can't find it anywhere anymore...) It was actually quite difficult to get exactly seven or ten strides, but it made me super aware of the activity and exactly how my horse was moving!

As well at this, something I found really useful to ride with Vallu from the article was to ride a canter half pass from the corner to X, after which you turn to do a 10m circle in canter in travers. This improves Vallu's pirouettes a lot, mainly because I'm more in charge of what he is doing rather than Vallu taking over and throwing himself around 180 degrees! I've even been playing with this when riding Basse, but simplifying the exercise to be half pass into a 10m circle because he's not that highly trained to be able to do such a small circle in travers - although he has been really good with doing travers on a bigger, 20m circle so I'm optimistic that one day soon I could try to make the circle smaller and see what Basse says about that!
More circles!
In fact I've really gotten into riding lots of different circles, like riding 8m and 10m circles in trot when warming up to get both boys bending through their bodies. Riding 18m circles has proven to be REALLY good because it highlights if your horse isn't truly with you. Riding just off the track is hard work if your horse is anything like Basse and seems to get sucked towards the fence! Vallu aced this exercise nearly straight away πŸ˜‡ Although it took several attempts with Basse, afterwards he was fantastic to ride and I'm so pleased to have another trick up my sleeve with him which is why I wanted to share this with everyone!


  1. Vallu looks so good in pink! also that counting strides in a circle thing really works. my trainer told me about it once and it makes so much sense. i find that if i count the number of strides in each quarter of my circle and aim to make the quarters equivalent, my circles are much much better. now if only i could REMEMBER to do it haha

  2. I've heard trainers recommend this exercise a few times, and it is so helpful because it really improves
    our awareness. It can be so easy to slide into auto-pilot, especially when we're working with horses we know well. Awareness is the key to improving so many things with our horses (and in the rest of our lives!!).
    Thank you for reminding us of this!

  3. Great post, and I always find giving the rider something to focus on gets a better output, rather than just riding a 20m circle. It's also good to do the transitions in the pace - going from less strides to more - to help the activity but also the elevation.

  4. Thanks for the sharing ! I don't know either how many strides i put in a circles or in the short sides of the arena, i'm gonna work on it ! I only work with poles, i put the distance for seven strides for examples and i ask for eight, five, nine and six strides.