Some of you may have figured this out already, but I will let you in on a little secret, I am a stickler for accuracy! Yes, I admit it, I am an accuracy-a-holic. Why? Simple, if you ride your exercises accurately then your horse will athletically develop, on the other hand if you ride pear, diamond, oval, or square shaped circles then your horse will struggle to maintain balance, rhythm and tempo. BR and T are paramount to training success, hence accurate circles are paramount to athletic development. Some coaches who are even more traditional than I will even claim that every step you take on a horse you are either athletically developing the horse or breaking it down. Lesson 1! Ride accurately!
The figure to the left is how I set up my school based on the common 20m x 40m arena.
A 20m x 60m school can also be setup like this, ask me for a diagram if you can’t figure out where to place everything.
What are those coloured blobs and red lines?
The red lines are trotting poles, notice the placement… the ones on the centerline are placed so that the center of the pole is exactly 5m from the letters C and A. The ones on the quarter school are placed so that the center of the pole is exactly 5m from the wall (or perpendicular to and on the quarter line) and 10m from the short side, parallel to the short side. This creates a 10m x 10m square in each corner. I have drawn a dashed line circle in each corner to demonstrate the 10m circle in these 10m x 10m squares. Notice that 2 of the 4 points of the circle touch the center point of each trotting pole and the other 2 points touch the track 5m from the corner. Notice that in the corner by “H” I do not use a trotting pole on the quarter school, this is left out on purpose so that you can test your 10m circle without the aid of this pole.
On the bottom right in the corner by “F” there are 5 trotting poles set up in a grid pattern, one of the exercises I will be sharing uses this grid so there will be more info on that later.
The “coloured blobs” are cones. I like to use 18″ tall soft plastic cones that don’t shatter or break when stepped on. Since I have a rule, knock over a cone buy me a bottle of wine, the cones cost more than the cheap wine I like to drink so I don’t want them breaking. I also like to use multi coloured cones – I find it really helpful when I am teaching and directing my students through this maze be referring to the “blue cone corner” or ride through the “orange cones” etc.
In placing the cones;
In each corner I place a cone about 8 of my footsteps out from the corner. The cone should be far enough in that your horse can go around it on a 10m arc and not so far in that should you wish to ride a 20m circle at “C” or “A” the cone is not in the way. 8 of my feet is about perfect. Experiment with your own feet. I also place a cone 5m from the corner on the short side (quarter line marker) and 5m from the corner on the long side. These provide points of reference for the 10m circle in each corner when combined with the middle point of each trotting pole. I like to use 3 cones in each corner that are the same color, this way during lesson I can say “in the yellow cone corner” etc.
On the center line I place a cone 10m from X and then a second cone about 5 of my feet back towards X so that if you ride a perfect 20m circle in the center of the school, you will pass between these cones on the center line. I also place cones on the half school line 5 of my feet from “E” and “B”.
In the center of the school, around “X” I like to setup 4 cones for a Volte. If your horse is not schooling that level, then place these cones so that if you were to ride a 10m circle around “X” then you would ride around the outside of these 4 cones. This is really good reference for schooling a spiral circle which is an exercise that we will get to soon.
Have a look at the school, if you have any questions or comments I would be happy to answer them.