This is another fairly nostalgic blog post, I apologise but it is probably brought on by my visit home.
When I learnt to teach I was taught to use a lot of twenty metre circles; at the ends of the school, and then to make it really hard, in the centre of the school. Then when you look at all prelim dressage tests, they predominantly use twenty metre circles.
So we use a lot of twenty metre circles.
I recently wondered why a lot of riders and horses I see find medium trot a challenge. Yes, sometimes their horses are too much on the forehand, or not established enough in working trot, or the rider may be at fault.
But anyway, we used to ride extended trot a lot on our ponies, in preparation for the show ring with the Welsh Cobs, but it used to come fairly easily to us, and we didn`t have the technical teaching – we just rose faster and kicked until we realised that we needed to keep the rein contact to stop getting canter.
Then it twigged. Once we had progressed from closed order, we used to ride in open order and one of the instructions we had was “ride a ten metre circle now”, which usually meant keep your eyes peeled so that you didn’t crash, but also so that your pony made his own circle, and didn`t follow the nearest one.
Riding a ten metre circle requires more collection than riding a twenty metre circle, so our lessons where we rode umpteen ten metre circles were actually engaging our horse`s hindquarters as well as improving their suppleness and balance, so it meant that when we opened them up into extended trot they found it easy and were quite uphill with their lengthened strides.
From this I started incorporating more ten metre circles into my teaching; in the corners of the school to begin with, and before and after medium trot to help improve the horses I ride and the people I teach.
Looking back, it`s amazing how much you can teach children or young adults without getting too technical, and you see it with kids in daily life too who have been subconsciously taught a theory without ever being sat down by their intellectual parent and it being explained directly.