Every rider knows the kinds of activities and exercises you can do with your horse in the ring—circles (lots and lots of circles), bending lines and serpentines, upward and downward transitions…depending on your discipline and style of riding, the options number many! But what do you do when your circles look like eggs, your horse isn’t bending evenly through the serpentine, or he’s dragging his feet so lifelessly through the sand that you would rather just get off?
In TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES, author Sigrid Schope provides more than 40 exercises using simple, affordable tools that make your “eggs” round, your serpentines smooth, and your horse energized, to name just a few benefits.
Try this: Place a cone in the middle of the ring (at “X” in a dressage arena). Ride around the ring on the rail, looking toward the cone before asking the horse to turn at the center of one of the short sides (“A” or “C” if the dressage letters are marked) and riding directly toward it. Here are 6 ways that single traffic cone will improve your riding:
1 Your “plan” and focus on the cone will cause you to hold the reins more softly, improving connection and contact.
2 Thinking about where you want to ride and at what gait helps you prepare your horse properly, rather than suddenly “attacking” him with your aids.
3 Your focus on the cone will help you hold your head and upper body straight, and you will find your horse will move on a straight line toward your goal. Your head, shoulders, and body will follow your eyes, and this will also direct your horse.
4 Looking ahead toward an end point will cause a sluggish horse that lacks impulsion to pick up his tempo.
5 Practicing simple lines with a clear goal helps you learn to ride more precisely.
6 Incorporating “props” in your riding exercises adds interest for the horse, improving his concentration while making the training process more engaging.
For lots of easy ways to become a better rider while ensuring both you and your horse are having fun together in the ring, check out TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.