How can you practise riding tight turns ?
Tight turns are useful in all disciplines, especially in show jumping to beat the clock and win the round, but also in polo. Here are a few exercises you can try.
The first exercise: Use four corridors of ground poles (that’s eight poles) arranged as a large square. So, you can begin by riding your horse around the edges of this square, on the right rein as well as the left rein. And you’re going to make this square progressively smaller and smaller. Your horse will be channelled by the corridors and made to turn tight. This is already a very difficult exercise. Once you have mastered it, your horse should turn sharp quite well.
Begin the exercise gradually, go through one corridor of poles, get out of the square, then come back in and go through another corridor. Then, try to ride two, one after the other. Do the same on the other rein. Then try to ride three, and then four in a row. Your horse will gradually settle his stride in this square. Once he is comfortable doing all four corridors, try changing reins.
In this exercise, the most important thing is that your horse stays straight. This may seem paradoxical because you are constantly turning. But your horse should not be crooked, or overbending. You have to try to straighten him according to the curved line you are riding. We say that a horse is ‘straight’ on a circle when he has the right level of bend.
Then, you can shrink down the square a little bit to get shorter trajectories. The important thing is to be able to keep your horse straight on the curves and still have him in a nice settled stride. If it becomes too difficult, or only based on coercion, you may have problems when out competing. This is an exercise that really channels horses. Your horse has to be collected enough to turn tight on a course.
Then, start again on the other rein. When your horse does well in this exercise and he’s ready to turn tight, you can move on to the second exercise.
The second device: You have to confirm your turns with obstacles. Set up several fences (verticals and/or oxers) and try to improve your turns by making them tighter and quicker. Always start by showing your horse the course once without asking too much of him. Then, you can start being more demanding.
A little tip: To turn mid-air, remember that where you look conditions the position of your body. And therefore, it prepares the turn by changing the horse’s attitude.
You must absolutely look where you want to go as soon as you feel the take off stride (when your horse brings its hindquarters under him) and you have seen your obstacle and are sure to jump it well. You must immediately focus on the next obstacle.
Where you look is fundamental because, without realising it, you will direct your body in the right trajectory. Your legs will move, your shoulders and hands will move as well. Your horse is bound to feel it!
To sum up, in order to practise tight turns, first think of where you need to look. It’s really fundamental. If there’s one thing to remember, it’s this one! Then, train with easy exercises (ground poles in a square shape), work up gradually, and above all, do not jump too high.
Do you have difficulties with tight turns? What do you think of this email? Leave me a comment here.