View Full Version : help riding corners

Sep. 29, 2011, 11:40 AM
First let me say that I am NOT a trainer.:lol:

But I am the only dressage rider at my barn, and I have been asked by a kid who wants to do the dressage tests at the interscholastic level to give her some pointers. We have no dressage arena but I taped off a 20 meter circle so she can at least get used to doing that. Saturday I am going to just help her with riding straight, making that turn up the center line, and riding corners.

Is there a good, catchy rule of thumb about riding corners that I can give her to latch on to?

One rule of thumb I learned, for example, on riding the diagonals is to "leave late, arrive early."

Do any of you trainers use anything like that for beginners to help them ride corners?

Sep. 29, 2011, 11:56 AM
Try thinking about an actual "turn" rather than "corner" . When the last stride has been reached on the straight, say to yourself, "and turn," as if mentally turning 90 degrees. Imagine that your hips and pelvis are actually steering the horse rather than the legs and hands.

Sep. 29, 2011, 11:58 AM
Well, first ask you: what is the level of this rider? When you say 20 meter circle and riding straight etc - is this kid riding in a full arena and you taped off a 20 meter circle BUT you are teaching the rider to ride the full arena right?

I THINK it would be REALLY REALLY helpful if you do these things:

1. Take some jumping poles or whatever and lay them down in the arena to map out a 20x40 arena or 20x60 arena (find out which they are using for the show). KIDS really need to experience the ACTUAL size before the show. THEN write the letters on some cones or something and get BEACHFMK all out there so she/he knows the letters.

2. THEN walk on the ground together the geometry. Have her follow your steps and then have her walk it - so she sees where the 20 meter circles fit in the rectangle arena, knows the diagonals, knows centerline and where X is. A kid cannot ride to X and halt if she doesnt know exactly where that is!

3. Explain that it is VERY important that she ride the geometry large - LIKE you said - leave late, arrive early - that is catchy but might be confusing - demonstrate by walking it. I actually EXPLAIN the reason why - you cant make a nice corner if you turn 45 degrees. You need to give the horse room by making the corner 90 degrees and THEN coming off the rail. Then you want to go on the rail BEFORE the corner so your turn is 90 degrees not 45 degrees.

But the letters are on the rail not in the corner so have this rider UNDERSTAND that the diagonal is NOT CORNER TO CORNER but rather letter to letter.

4. Then have the rider do it as you READ the test out to her. THEN have her ride it at the walk as she does it. Then have her do the trotting bits.

It is important that when she do her 20 meter circles that she not miss the opposite track and actually I have found that telling the kids to make sure they trot at least 1 solid stride on the opposite side results in a perfect circle.

In riding their corners..... again, they need to ride LETTER TO LETTER not corner to corner. Then the corner should be fine. If the horse tends to get unbalanced, I find that in the trot, I can tell the kids to slightly lift their inside hand and it gives the horse enough to balance in the corner. It really sits them back slightly because kids often roll onto their pelvic bones in a corner (girls do anyways) and they dont realize it.

Also,remind them to PLAN the transitions early - in the Intro and Training tests - you have room to make the transition - but the POINT is to plan it. Like Halt through walk. Kids often plan the halt upon standing on X. So have them trotting in and slowing the post and taking a walk step before X.

Sep. 29, 2011, 11:59 AM
If it's a beginner, then also tape off a 10 meter circle and have get used to that feel. Then explain that at the lower levels, she should make her turn in the corner as if she is doing the first quarter of a 10 meter circle. No deeper is required at the low levels. You can even mark off where she would leave the long side and where she would then hit the short side, making sure to bend her horse around that curve.

I also find it helps to place a small cone out from the corner and explain that she must go OUTSIDE that cone. This helps teach them not to cut the corner.

Sep. 29, 2011, 11:59 AM
YES and also, in that corner, keep her hands close together so she is closes the outside rein - NOT CROSS THE WITHERS but let that outside rein ley against the shoulder more and turn using the outside leg slightly - again - it depends on what level of rider this is.

Sep. 29, 2011, 01:32 PM
Thanks everyone for all your pointers.

This is a busy H/J/lesson barn, so while there are three rings, only one has no jumps, and it is probably 20 X 35 but it is oval. So I put tape on the rail where E and B would be, then another piece 10m away on either side, and we have 4 pathetic soccer cones. I plan to set up the cones so she gets used to touching all four edges of the 20M circle.

There are a few chewed up jump poles that I can set up for her. It will take some dragging stuff around, but I hope to approximate an arena for her at least once before the show. It's hard because the jumping rings are the only ones big enough, but the head of the riding school would have to consent to let us move a couple of jumps, then drag the ring, then set up poles and cones. It may take some stealth and/or cookie baking.;)

Thanks for the reminder about the 1/4 of a 10m circle. I am thinking to have her make sure her horse's body is straight as she passes the last letter and then TURN.

The "leave late, arrive early" helped me to ride letter to letter and not corner to corner. I am thinking she will be horse show nervous, plus have someone calling out the test (totally foreign for a H/J rider) so if she has some tools to use for the sticky parts, she should be okay.

This kid is a total barn rat in the best sense of the word. She has no horse or saddle, but a generous trainer who shares her tack with her. She works for her lessons. She'll hop on any rank horse and be grateful for the saddle time.

Sep. 29, 2011, 01:41 PM
You did not mention what level of test she will be riding. If she is riding something equivalent to Training Level, the corners should be ridden a little larger than 1/4 of a 10-meter.

Be sure to tell her to follow the turn with her head. When she is turning counterclockwise, she will want to turn her head more and a little sooner then when she is turning clockwise. This will also hold true for her 20-meter circles, i.e.that she turn her head more toward the inside of the circle for the counterclockwise direction, and keeps it a little straighter for clockwise. Also, tell her that her shoulders need to turn with the circle, rotating her upper torso from the waist as her shoulders mark the circle.

Sep. 29, 2011, 01:51 PM
You did not mention what level of test she will be riding. If she is riding something equivalent to Training Level, the corners should be ridden a little larger than 1/4 of a 10-meter.

Training Level 1 is her test.

Oh, yeah, and she can practice stretchy circles even in her jumping lessons.

Geez, this stuff is complicated!:lol:

Sep. 29, 2011, 03:15 PM
The closest thing I have to a "catchy rule of thumb" is to talk about riding "square corners."

I remind my riders to think about engaging the inside hind through the corner, and to keep the rhythm and impulsion coming into the corner and through it. That usually works.

The exercises I like best to teach square corners begin with riding off the rail along the center line, quarter line, eighth line. The rider has to work on making square corners coming off the rail on the short side and coming onto the rail on the opposite short side. Coming on is a lot more difficult and that's when riders lose the square corner. Once they find out that they can almost put their horses' noses on the rail and the horse can still turn by engaging the inside hind, a lightbulb goes off about what a square corner is and how to get it.

You can build on this exercise by making a "box" somewhere in the ring, marked with cones or just created in the rider's mind. Four square corners, both directions. And then you can jumble it all up so you can make a square corner anywhere and anytime you want to change direction. By the time a real corner appears, the rider knows how it's supposed to feel.

Sep. 29, 2011, 05:38 PM
A corner is a quarter of a volte. Helps to think of it like that in terms of suppleness. I also love the reminder of half-halt before the corner (the start), half-halt in the corner (the middle, when you are right at the point of the angle/turn), half-halt after the corner (the end, right as you go straight). This reminder in each corner enhances awareness and reminds the rider to half-halt to keep the balance. Also, if the horse is strong and likes to run through the corners, I like the excercise of halt before the corner, walk (then trot/canter) through the corner, halt after the corner, for each corner. This of course can be modified

Sep. 29, 2011, 09:39 PM
A corner should not be a volte at Training Level.

As lovely as it would be for a beginning dressage rider to do a half halt anywhere, corner or not, the reality is that many higher level riders have no clue either. There will be time later for half-halt, but for now, you need to concentrate on helping her learn the geometry of the test.

Sep. 29, 2011, 09:51 PM
Angel, I don't understand your post. Did you mean to say that many higher level riders don't have a clue about how to give a half halt or when to give a half halt??

Sep. 29, 2011, 10:13 PM
Encourage her to ride through the turn. Too many riders get to the corner, and go "Oh, corner". Tell her a few strides out to sit tall, and plan ahead, start thinking of bend, and turning.

Sep. 29, 2011, 10:27 PM
Angel, I don't understand your post. Did you mean to say that many higher level riders don't have a clue about how to give a half halt or when to give a half halt??

I understand Angel to mean that she grasps that this is not a *real* dressage rider, but an enthusiastic kid riding a dressage test for fun at an unrated show. A half halt is probably not in her vocabulary.

Great suggestions from everyone, by the way!

Sep. 30, 2011, 03:17 PM
Actually, Angel, it is a quarter of a volte at all levels.

Also, just because this kid may not be a dressage rider does not mean that she should not try to understand half halts and corners. It is a basic, and just because some upper level riders do not understand basics does not mean that a rider just starting out in the sport shouldn't try to understand the basics.

I am sorry, but I completely disagree with you. To each his own, however. The OP asked for help in teaching corners to a new rider, I gave help that follows the lines of my teachings, and to me is what I would start with a rider, regardless of the level, having issues with corners. Also, it is the duty of those teaching or helping new riders to inform them of the basic vocabulary and techniques of our sport, like half-halts and corners. How else are they to progress and understand correctly? If you don't teach her now, then she will progress into becoming that clueless upper level rider that you mentioned, if she does decide to continue on.

Sep. 30, 2011, 10:00 PM
A volte is an 8-meter circle. You do not ride that tight a corner in the lower levels. The basic rule of thumb is that whatever circle size you are riding in the main part of the test, you use a quarter of it for your corners. In reality, a Training Level corner should be ridden a little smaller, but no where near a quarter of an 8-meter circle.

Oct. 1, 2011, 12:51 AM
Remember: Don't pull your horse around the corners, push her.

Oct. 1, 2011, 09:54 AM
The riding school director said we could set up a dressage court next Friday. Woo hoo!