Horseback Riding - The Circle
Horse Back Flatwork

From: Equestrian and Horse | Horseback Riding

See also: Mounting | Position | Lunging | Jumping
Dismounting | Dressage Training | Rider Aids

Horse Picture

A circle is a continuous curve where the horse maintains inside bend and energy throughout.

Sizes Of Circle
The three main sizes of circle, that are used when schooling or in competition are the 10 meter, 15 meter and 20 meter circle. When schooling they can be ridden anywhere in the school where space allows. A circle that is between 6 and 10 meters is called a Volte.

What To Look For
When a horse is on a circle it should be bending into the direction of the circle. Circles help to get the inside hind leg to push through and activate the horse from their hindquarters whilst at the same time encouraging balance, suppleness and rhythm throughout their entire body. Whilst on a circle the horse should remain tracking up, with their head level and not tilting. The horse should have a slight bend to the inside, just enough so that the rider can see the corner of the inner eyelash, as a guide if you can see the whole eye and side of the horses face you have too much bend.

Asking For A Circle
To ask a horse to circle will require several aids in varying quantities.

Accurate Riding Of A Circle
To ride an accurate circle takes time and practice. Good judgment of the height and width of the circle you have ridden are essential for assessing accuracy. Start off by placing cones at key points around your circle, imagine your circle as a clock face and place your cones at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock respectively, this will mark out the four main quarter points of your circle, which allows you to curve around them. It is useful to start your circle off at a school marker, this will not only help to prevent drifting off course, but will also give you an exact place to start and finish.

The Ten Meter Circle

The 15 Meter Circle

The 20 Meter Circle

When To Use Circles
Once different sizes of circle have been mastered then you can ride them to balance a horse, prepare a horse for a transition or for some lateral work, help to slow down a horse who is rushing and also ride half circles to change the rein. Half circle exercises include a half 10 or 15 meter circle that returns to the track to change the rein. Two half 10, 15, and 20 meter circle that form a S shape. You can also add circles into the loops of a serpentine, to either end of a five meter loop, and to figure of eights.