View Full Version : Circle of Death

Apr. 25, 2009, 10:02 PM
I know that this has been discussed in the past, and I just came across this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt3qPsH4JI4&feature=related)video on YouTube--vintage GM! I thought I should post it for reference.

Apr. 25, 2009, 10:23 PM
We do this a lot in the winter in the indoor. It helps so much! And recently when I was in the EAP we had to do this but with poles.

Apr. 25, 2009, 10:51 PM
Wow. You'd need a very quick and responsive horse to do that exercise! :eek:

Apr. 25, 2009, 11:13 PM
My horse has the SPCA on speed dial for just such emergencies!

Oh my, that does look like WORK! He thinks three (not four) poles on the ground in a circle is pushing the envelope.

You guys give me all kinds of idea. Maybe it would be worth a short stint in jail...

Apr. 25, 2009, 11:41 PM
Oh gosh, I try to avoid this exercise like the plague!!! It makes me out of breath just watching it on YouTube, hahaha!

Apr. 26, 2009, 12:11 AM
My pony could do that with his eyes closed...but...our standards are too heavy to move. Yeah, I'll go with that excuse. :yes:

Apr. 26, 2009, 12:21 AM
That's intense! Nice find:yes:

At my barn we call that a 'clock exercise' on the flat and use it for upwards and downwards transitions(sans jumps of course!)

Apr. 26, 2009, 12:26 AM
I had a trainer who made me do that--and he had never HEARD of GM!! :lol:

Breezy (the school horse I rode) hated it every bit as much, BTW. I can hear Jonathan's voice now: "Leg! Leg! Leg!"


Apr. 26, 2009, 01:37 AM
That's one of my favorite exercises on my handy little Welsh/Arab cross -- but I was, er, less than successful at it on my trainer's OTTB. :lol:

Apr. 26, 2009, 02:16 AM
wow so don't let any of my students (past and present) hear you all talk like that, they will think I torture them when I make them do this inside in winter.:D

Seriously one of my old trainers did this with us and I have used it with all of my students ever since. it's one of my favorites in winter to break the boredom

Apr. 26, 2009, 02:21 AM
ok, who will do the math: if that horse was doing a three-stride and taking the smallest circle a horse can reasonably be expected to go, how far apart are the inside standards from each other?

Apr. 26, 2009, 02:38 AM
ahh doing that at EAP should be interesting haha...sometimes my 6 year old forgets how to, umm, turn ;) but my equitation horse basically just carries me around the circle...it's quite nice :)

hahaha edited because i fail at math. miserably. :p

Apr. 26, 2009, 02:47 AM
You mean you didn't use pye R squared?

Apr. 26, 2009, 03:34 AM
All I know is pie R yummy.:D

But seriously, am I the only one who likes this exercise? I haven't done it in ages, so I can't remember where the standards are.

Apr. 26, 2009, 03:54 AM
I've set up something like this.... but I can't recall a distance calculation.

I know I've done this with 3 and 4 jumps on the circle.

And I know I've done this where the middle standards were stackable jump blocks instead of standards... and in addition to the circle exercise we'd jump the middle of the thing... at some point the middle was two and a half jump blocks tall... and you could walk through the middle on foot.

Apr. 26, 2009, 06:15 AM
We used to do that all the time. It's really not that hard.

We had a much more difficult exercise where you set the jumps up end to end in a zigzag pattern. Then you jump into the first "V" of the zigzag landing alongside the second fence, turn away from the second fence and circle back to it-jump into the second element into the second "V", make another circle the other direction etc. If you use four fences in a row and make small circles it is very hard and a great exercise for sharpening up your jumpoff skills.

Apr. 26, 2009, 08:59 AM
A BNT who used to be in my area warmed up his hunters on at least one jump taken on a curve. His idea was that the long stride comes primarily from the horse using his inside hind leg. Jumping on a curve both strengthens that leg and/or gets the horse thinking about reaching under with it.

I think my slacker hunter would lengthen his stride and relax after he got off the circle of death just to celebrate being alive!

fleur de duc
Apr. 26, 2009, 09:06 AM
ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hate this. Oh I hate this so much! lol. When I pull up and see that set up, I think I just came down with something ;]

I find it easy (but not fun) on short strided horses that are really responsive. But try it on a big baby with an even bigger stride! and yeah .. down right frightening!

but I must agree .. it helps wonders!

Apr. 26, 2009, 09:17 AM
Usually not set on 12'. A little less. The inside to inside track in 3 is typically more collected and the outside to outside 4 a little more open...maybe 32'/33' on the inside and 46 or 47 on the outside track. But you can set it as you wish. be really hard to open the stride all the way and hold that bending track.

If you want to tackle this, start with just 2 spokes. After you master the strides, bend and holding the track, you can add the third spoke, fight with that for awaile and when you get it, the fourth. Don't do too many reps in a row, let them canter around the outside rail and take a break often

You should be able to do this. Maybe not like GM but it's pretty basic IF you nail your flatwork regularly.

Apr. 26, 2009, 09:23 AM
Two winters ago, PH published an article containing this exercise-- three out of four jumps set up. The Maddens built a curved line of Xs at a clinic they gave at their Syracuse show.

For a time, you could find these kinds of circles set up in many small indoors around Central NY. Good thing the horses weren't unionized!

Then the rash died down. But the exercise has been around in various forms for awhile. People just try it, find out how hard it is given their current state of flatwork and move on. Or they get what they want from it and move on.

I don't think GM holds a patent.

Apr. 26, 2009, 09:29 AM
GM hardly owns it and did not "invent it"-you will see it from time to time the the better H/J barns where it is a routine excercise.

I did it in Western in the Trail classes 30 years ago, rails were, maybe, 18". Try that one handed with a curb bit and loose rein;).

Apr. 26, 2009, 10:03 AM
Yep this is one of my FAVORITE excercises (during winter especially) and my students all know that "evil Kieran" has arrived when the see that set up in the arena!! :lol::lol::lol:

The folks that have been with me awhile expect to see it at least a few times during the winter... :winkgrin:

It is amazing to watch them all say "oh, that is so hard, I can't do that..." and then they do it! Very satisfying... although to get it right takes patience and practice. Oh, and make sure you breath. lol...:yes:

Apr. 26, 2009, 10:06 AM
This is a fantastic exercise! I even use it on my short stirrup kids with crossrails but I call it the MAGIC CIRCLE for them! My older kids call it the circle of death.......It teaches the rider to turn with outside aids and to have complete body control and always look and plan for the next jump. For the horse it is amazing softening up both sides evenly and really making them go straight as well as using/strengthening that inside hind.

Apr. 26, 2009, 10:39 AM
I agree that the exercise really isn't that difficult once you find your rhythm.

Lots of trainers use it, not just GM.

I actually prefer using just 2 poles, and practicing adjusting the stride to get specific numbers of steps between the jumps (as in, do it once on 8, once on 7, then 9).

Apr. 26, 2009, 08:04 PM
You mean you didn't use pye R squared?

hahahaha no and i just realized i fail at math...

i should probably learn the difference between a circle and a square. :eek:

Apr. 26, 2009, 08:16 PM
I used to do this all the time!!!! I loved doing it on any horse but mine :) My pony used to take off after jumps so keeping him on the circle was good, but sometimes those turns are SCARY at the rate of speed we could pick up... add in being an ex-barrel racer and a dirty stopper and your asking for trouble:winkgrin:

Apr. 26, 2009, 10:28 PM
Ah yes, the ever (not)popular Circle of Death!! A favorite exercise of mine to torture students who usually start whining when they see it set up . . . I think a few of my current crop are due as soon as I get back from vacation.

Hunter Mom
Apr. 27, 2009, 02:16 PM
We did this a few weeks ago in lessons. It was a challenge at first, especially, but gets easier.

Did you notice how much smoother they got after the first circle or two?

Angel Undercover
Apr. 27, 2009, 03:40 PM
My trainer uses this all the time. I will grudgingly admit that it's a really useful exercise. The first time he set it up I thought he was insane! :lol: But now I've come to appreciate the benefits.

Apr. 27, 2009, 04:05 PM
We call it "the circle of doom"

Apr. 27, 2009, 10:35 PM
Ooooooh the circle of death. An oldie but goodie but i-hate-it-ie :D

man i remember ONCE where i made the perfect circle-of-deaths in one lesson consecutively, like probably .. i dont know. some number or so circles in a row, all perfect, and i was like, OKAY, i'm done, i've done my share of these. this is enough circle-of-death-goodness to last me at least a year ! :lol: otherwise i normally do pretty okay at them, it just gets very tiring. my pony needs a loooooooooooooooot of leg.

there is nothing like dominating the circle of death!

probably also why it almost never happens anymore for me :D :lol:

i will admit that (through gritted teeth) it is a very useful excersize!

Apr. 27, 2009, 10:41 PM
It rocks!! we started working on it today. 2 fences, 180* apart. made mare think and use her body and helped my focus.

Apr. 27, 2009, 11:52 PM
I didn't actually know this was a big exercise with GM, eep! But I've worked on it often during the winters, and I both love and hate it! My horse has a tendency to get hot, so it's a lot of work, but once you get into it it's a great exercise.

Apr. 28, 2009, 12:43 AM
I was taught this by David Hopper. When I first went and worked there, I spent weeks riding the "pinwheel" of poles everyday in the field on multiple horses before he would even let me jump a single jump.:eek:

It has become a staple for my program ever since.

You can vary your set up , but I am pretty sure off the top of my head tonight; that I set the insides of the spokes at 36'. Giving options of 3, 4, or 5 strides between each jump depending on the track. I'll set it tomorrow and make sure I didn't lie to you!:D

Apr. 28, 2009, 01:02 AM
We did an exercise like this with a clinician from Austria. Except it was in our 20 x 60 m indoor and they were all 2 strides apart, except for one that was one stride apart. In a way it was kind of nice to have it in the indoor, since there was no room on the outside of fences so it really made you ride it well since missing the fence would probably end fairlu badly. It really made it obvious how one sided all the horses/riders were.

Apr. 28, 2009, 01:39 AM
If anyone is feeling lazy about moving standards around, or just wants to be extra nice to their students, here's another exercise that can be done with the jumps in a + shape. Start off taking rightmost jump, but instead of turning left as in the COD, turn right and loop back to jump the topmost jump, make another right loop, continueing on making a 4 leaf clover pattern. Repeat in the other direction. Probably not a torture exercise, but those of you with the "cozy nook" style indoor arenas can probably bump it to that status, especially if you have some fairly unbalanced draft crosses for your students to ride. :lol:

Apr. 28, 2009, 03:07 PM
It really made it obvious how one sided all the horses/riders were.

This is what Inoticed. She couldn't get moving quick counter clockwise (her unbalanced direction) but could build up a head of steam the opposite way (her balanced direction)

Apr. 28, 2009, 03:56 PM
I've had two trainers who have had me do this. Last time, it was in the summer and I was DYING - it is a real workout even with the fences at 18" or so !

Apr. 28, 2009, 06:09 PM
I've done this before on a rusher, whew boy did that get his attention (in a clinic).

Been working on 1 jump on a circle lately and that's totally enough for me!