Start by practicing at the end of the ring - in the standard dressage ring, M, and other related letters are 6 meters off the short side, so make your curve slightly off the short side rail. Set a cone or some marker where G or D would be and work on getting that shape nicely done. Also practice the other direction (H to G) but don't link them together right away. Figure out which side is easier, and how you have to adjust your aids on the harder side. Get used to what the shape FEELS like.
When you have to link them together, you have only a couple strides to change your bend in the test. But in practice, do the first 1/2 circle, and take as many strides straight as you need to get the bend change and then do your other 1/2. THEN begin to reduce the number of strides you took to change bend until you get where you need to be.
We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........
Working on this myself. I KNOW my horse can do it.... it's just like the 10m quarter circles in the corners..... but more often than not, I do not ride the corners (and I know better!)- and you must ride these half circles. SO, I am concentrating on riding every corner,and it's helping in these half circles.
Remember this is not TL any more - your horse should be a bit more together and off his FH. (You can't do a 10m circle very well in a long frame). I have much better luck sitting than rising. Collect him up a bit, just like in a corner, as you approach B/E. Be sure you are on your IS seatbone and your IS leg is long. Leave the long side the first step after B/E; change your bend on ONE stride at X. Be sure to use your outside leg to help keep his haunches (and maybe your outside thigh for his shoulders) in line.
How are your 10m circles? Try doing two 10m circles across the arena at X like a figure 8.
Setting up some cones will help, too. Make gates at B, 1/4, X, 1/4, and E. Make them narrow enough that you cannot cheat.
Last edited by lorilu; Feb. 22, 2013 at 08:28 PM.
Reason: I keep remembering things to add!
Since, I assume, you are planning on continuing up the levels with that horse. First, master the 10m circle. In order to do this on a large striding horse, he must be , of course forward, then you must engage those infamous core muscles and carry you through slowly through the circle allowing him to engage just a little, so that he can keep active and forward. That's right! You carry you. No longer is sitting trot just survival, now you must be able to work while doing it.
I have found that the letters in a large arena are useful, so long as you remember your math, that there are 12m between letters, and 20m to the other side. If you can use cones it will make your life easier.
Once you have mastered the 10m, it is a case of riding one, starting a second, and then on the centerline a half halt/ moment of straightness rebend and then a 1/2 circle the other way. If you make the first too big your second on the changed rein becomes an even more difficult volte, or worse yet, you lose it and go straight.
Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.
The 10 and 15m circles in the Training and Preliminary eventing tests are very difficult for my 17.2 horse. The biggest thing that helped me was to always make sure he was correctly bent and turning every single step. If I let him straighten out for even one step it threw the size of the circle off. Also, as someone else mentioned, make sure your horse is turning off of your outside aids. My guy likes to pop his shoulder so I really have to focus on keeping control of his outside shoulder. Lots of transitions and changes of direction will also get your horse quicker off your aids and help to make the change of bend smoother.
I practiced on my lanky, long and not limber 17hh+ ottb with a gate made of two cones at x, and making sure I had the one straight stride. Also, lots of full ten meter circles thrown in too. Make sure to steer from the outside rein, have enough impulsion, and when they are balanced, let them dance and carry themselves.
Well, I took all these wonderful tips with me on my ride today, and I'm happy to report that we had some good success and managed to crank out a couple NICE pairs of 10m half circles. Now, with lots more practice, they will be perfect!
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
lies with in us. - Emerson