Counter Patterns are exercises ridden in a fashion that is counter (or opposite) to the norm. Examples include “counter” bending, “counter” canter, “counter” change of hand and the focus of this article, “counter” change of rein into the corner. This is a rather simple exercise and a rather short article, however, the athletic developmental value of this movement is very high!
By riding your change of rein into the corner you accomplish several things. First, the benefit of riding a 10m demi-circle, increased engagement of the quarters, secondly the benefit of riding a change of rein, suppleness, thirdly by riding it as a counter pattern, that is from the center line back to the track, your 10m demi-circle will be much more accurate utilizing the walls to aid in developing inside leg to outside rein. Why will it be more accurate? Well for starters if you ride the 10m demi-circle from the track out to the center line, your probability of missing the centerline is much higher. Most will miss the centerline large, falling out the shoulder or worst yet the horse will lean in on the inside aids cutting the turn short and disengaging the inside hind. By riding it as a counter pattern, from the center line back to the track, you can develop more engagement of the inside hind without fear of overshooting the pattern as the wall will guide you with your outside aids.
Go large tracking left, at E half halt and leave the track riding a straight diagonal line aiming at a point on the center line approximately 7m from A, or just aim slightly to the left of the center of the trotting pole lying on the center line in front of A. As you cross the quarter line half halt right outside rein and leg, change your posting diagonal and bend and half halt on the new outside rein and leg joining up with the 10m circle in the corner by K. Use your inside leg to make the circle as large as you can, maintaining a soft feel on the outside rein. Just before K half halt left rein and leg thereby straightening your horse and carrying on large tracking right.
Although this pattern is ideal for engaging the quarters of horses schooling up to 1st level, horses schooling even FEI level can also benefit from this pattern perhaps carrying on into half pass right towards X.
Some variations to try;
- Try riding this pattern, changing rein into each corner.
- Try riding a 20m circle left at E and then change rein into the corner from E to A to K
- Try riding a 1/2 20m circle left at E and then change rein into the corner from B to C to M and then back onto the 20m 1/2 circle right at B and change rein into the corner from E to C to H.
- Try riding this pattern and add a leg yield left as you cross the quarter line and then as you approach the center line and the trotting pole ride a shoulder fore right or shoulder in right through the corner toward K. Halt at K at a 30 degree angle to the track and then turn on the forehand push the haunches over to the wall and trot off.
- Try riding this pattern as above but at K go half pass right and then ride the quarter line shoulder in right a few strides and then back to half pass right towards X, etc.