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View Full Version : Getting crisp AND relaxed Spirals



GraceLikeRain
May. 18, 2011, 06:18 PM
When you are working on spiraling in and out of a circle what are your expectations? How do these expectations change as the horse goes from intro level to first-ish level? I am trying to work on spirals on a more consistent basis to really confirm my outside rein and keep my smart mare thinking rather than assuming. I am very pleased with her progress but I feel that sometimes to get a crisp leg yield on a circle we lose a bit of relaxation and strength.
Should I focus on relaxation/stretching and allowing her to become more crisp with time or should I push through and let her figure out how to remain relaxed now that I've raised the bar? With a horse who is still relatively new to this specific exercise, how did you know when to raise your expectations?
Finally, does anyone have any mental images or analogies that they find really helpful when working on spirals?

Sorry for the cluster of questions, I had a wonderful lesson this morning and it has my brain going a million miles an hour. I would appreciate any insight or experience you might have with spirals.

Thanks!

Equibrit
May. 18, 2011, 06:22 PM
Crisp is for lettuce.

mjhco
May. 18, 2011, 06:24 PM
What do you mean by "crisp leg yield on a circle"?

Are you expecting her to fling herself sideways?

GraceLikeRain
May. 18, 2011, 06:38 PM
What do you mean by "crisp leg yield on a circle"?

Are you expecting her to fling herself sideways?

Haha, while that is an interesting mental image I certainly hope not. Perhaps a better way to describe it would be prompt or clean.

When I do a downward transition I don't want her to slam on to her forehand but I do expect her to sit and give a prompt downward transition. If she had it her way she would slowly "dribble" into a downward transition and lose all impulsion so I have to ensure she maintains the same energy level through the transition.

I am not interested in making her yield in/out faster but rather I want to learn how to make each step more purposeful and eliminate "drifting." I understand this is my responsibility and is tied to my failure to correctly ask and support with my outside aids so I would love some advice on what I can do to be more effective about my request.

Did that help or did I make things more confusing :confused:?

ideayoda
May. 18, 2011, 07:42 PM
If the horse is a intro horse (walking and trotting) I would not be spiraling in. I might be spiraling from one end of the arena to the other (ie a slinky which starts at A and only spirals on the open side (1/2 the circle) until the horse gets to C. I would not expect crisp transitions on a horse which is just steadily up/open/active/and only 'accepting the bit' (the request for intro/training level horses). This puts the horse more into the outside rein, allows for control of the shoulders which keeps the horse straighter. You eliminate 'drifting' by riding the horse to an even contact on both reins.

Only when the horse is 'on the bit' would I expect crisper transitions, but always preparing with hh/hh/transition so that the horse is alerted/alerted/then transitions.

littlemanor
May. 19, 2011, 04:48 PM
DH teaches spirals more like the rings in an onion or on a bull's-eye. That is, instead of progressively spiraling out in one long line, you move to the next ring--a few steps over--and then move straight along that ring for at least a few more strides. So if you're yielding out to a larger ring, you'll need to "catch" the sideways motion with your outside leg to straighten the horse on the new track. Feels to me like this reduces the aimless drifting and falling onto the outside shoulder that can happen with spirals, makes the yield more purposeful and . . . um, crisp, even? (Though I hadn't thought of that word.)

Gloria
May. 19, 2011, 05:37 PM
I am not interested in making her yield in/out faster but rather I want to learn how to make each step more purposeful and eliminate "drifting." I understand this is my responsibility and is tied to my failure to correctly ask and support with my outside aids so I would love some advice on what I can do to be more effective about my request.

Leg yield one or two steps, go straight a few steps, before leg yield one or two steps and straight, repeat. Depending on what you are doing during the leg yield, if you are circling, straight means going continue on the circle; if you are going straight line, well, straight means going straight line.

The key here is to never ask for more than a couple of steps of leg yields before going straight again. Make sure your leg yield is straight and balanced, and make sure your horse is moving straight in between the leg yields. This really teaches you as a rider how to catch the horse with outside aids and the horse how to keep his own balance, and is harder than it looks.:cool:

When you are comfortable with going on one direction, kick it up a notch to leg yield to the opposite direction after the straight phase.

Swing
May. 19, 2011, 08:23 PM
Glorias suggestion is really good:)
I use the same exercise but on the longside...turn down the centreline and legyeild a couple of steps..go straight and then leg yeild a couple of steps again...this way you can catch them and straighten with the outside aids...more controlled rather then just drifting out.;)

GraceLikeRain
May. 19, 2011, 09:56 PM
Thanks guys!

These are great suggestions. I love the mental image of onion rings. I think we need to take a step back and really focus on getting 2-3 steps of leg yield and then go forward to make sure we maintain energy and relaxation. Any other exercises you guys like?

Carol O
May. 19, 2011, 10:13 PM
Rhythm. Expect a clear and consistant rhythm.

thatmoody
May. 20, 2011, 09:27 PM
Leg yield one or two steps, go straight a few steps, before leg yield one or two steps and straight, repeat. Depending on what you are doing during the leg yield, if you are circling, straight means going continue on the circle; if you are going straight line, well, straight means going straight line.

The key here is to never ask for more than a couple of steps of leg yields before going straight again. Make sure your leg yield is straight and balanced, and make sure your horse is moving straight in between the leg yields. This really teaches you as a rider how to catch the horse with outside aids and the horse how to keep his own balance, and is harder than it looks.:cool:

When you are comfortable with going on one direction, kick it up a notch to leg yield to the opposite direction after the straight phase.

This is how I do spirals - establish a new circle, stay on that circle for a bit, then establish another new circle. I love the leg yield to a change of direction, though - that adds a tricky new twist to it!

J-Lu
May. 20, 2011, 09:32 PM
If the horse is a intro horse (walking and trotting) I would not be spiraling in. I might be spiraling from one end of the arena to the other (ie a slinky which starts at A and only spirals on the open side (1/2 the circle) until the horse gets to C. I would not expect crisp transitions on a horse which is just steadily up/open/active/and only 'accepting the bit' (the request for intro/training level horses). This puts the horse more into the outside rein, allows for control of the shoulders which keeps the horse straighter. You eliminate 'drifting' by riding the horse to an even contact on both reins.

Only when the horse is 'on the bit' would I expect crisper transitions, but always preparing with hh/hh/transition so that the horse is alerted/alerted/then transitions.

I think this is a good post. There's a huge difference between the intro horse (walk trot, limited balance) and the first level horse (capable to not just do but *show* leg yields and has fairly good balance). Where is your horse/you in the range of intro to first level right now?

GraceLikeRain
May. 20, 2011, 10:53 PM
I think this is a good post. There's a huge difference between the intro horse (walk trot, limited balance) and the first level horse (capable to not just do but *show* leg yields and has fairly good balance). Where is your horse/you in the range of intro to first level right now?

Since I don't show it is difficult to pin point exactly where we are as a team. During a normal ride she is stretching into contact coming through her back, transitioning within gaits, leg yielding, playing with shoulder-fore, doing circles of various sizes, changing direction through the circle, trot-halt/halt-trot, etc. So I think we are more or less training level but perhaps others might disagree?