Raspberry Ridge Farms Home                                      Beginner Riding- Basic movements

Riders will learn these basic movements in their first lessons. These teach the rider to use their legs (to ask the horse to go forward and sideways) and reins (which turn and balance) to control the bend of the horse. As the rider advances in skill-level, the horse and rider will become more balanced and harmonious.

20 meter Circle: The circle must be round (left). The biggest mistake a beginning rider makes is to allow the circle to become flattened (right). As riders advance, the will learn to keep the horse from leaning into the circle by lifting the inside rein and supporting with the inside leg. The outside leg keeps the horse from swinging his quarters out. The outside rein keeps the horse from over-bending to the inside.

Hint: The rider should be able to see the horse's inside eye as the horse bends around the rider's inside leg. The inside rein asks for the degree of bend to the inside.









Changes of direction across the diagonal of the ring "Change across the diagonal": Start your turn after the corner. Arrive at the long side before the opposite corner. It is a good habit to get used to changing the posting diagonal at X (the centre of the ring) in order to prepare yourself and your horse for the new direction ahead.









The rider uses the corners as an exercise to bend the horse around the inside leg, then straightens the horse and lengthens across the diagonal, changes the posting diagonal at X (if trotting) and then uses the second corner to flex the horse in his new direction. If you are riding a dressage test, the centre of the curved (bent) horse, where the rider is sitting, should be the point which reaches the wall at the letter. To achieve this, the rider must aim for the wall slightly BEFORE the letter. Hint: Look ahead through the corner to help the horse to bend smoothly. (Sorry, the drawing medium did not have curves!)

The Increasing and Decreasing circle: This is an exercise I use to supple my horses, and correct for any weaknesses in straightening and balancing, as young horses (or horses which frequently are ridden by greener riders) will try to pop out shoulders or hips. When properly executed, the horse will slightly cross-over with his back legs as he moves. Hint; Look ahead at where you want your horse to travel.










For riding students, and young horses, this is an excellent introduction to lateral (side-ways) movement. The rider should always be able to see the horse's inside eye. On the decreasing circle: The inside rein asks for the degree of bend, supported by the inside leg. The outside rein supports the degree of bend and controls any tendency to over-bend. The outside leg pushes the horse inwards. On the increasing circle: The inside rein just asks the horse to keep the bend, the outside leg  and rein supports that bend, but the rein never asks the head to bend outwards! The inside leg moves back slightly and asks the horse to move outwards. The rider should visualize pushing the hindquarters out first in order not to lead with the shoulders. This is not a STEERING exercise to ride a spiral, but rather a leg-yielding exercise. (To get the rider to understand the the leg can be used to make the horse move side-ways).

The goal is to get the rider to be able to use her seat and each hand and leg independently of each other in order to achieve the perfect bend or straightness, and to be able to have the horse move his forehand or quarters as asked by the rider. In other words, we constantly strive to be able to fine-tune the movements we ask of our horse. This goal with be furthered with practice and with the increased level of balance that the rider achieves and he/she becomes more experienced and comfortable on the horse.


Cheryl Spencer 2011-2



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