Continuing with our training tips, here are some thoughts on 🌈 Corners 🌈. Corners are where we generally see people making the most mistakes, and they’re one of the easiest things to improve on through practice! Riding good corners really can make a huge difference to your marks in our tests - it doesn't just reflect in the individual marks for each movement, but there's a whole Collective (10x2 marks) for Use of Arena/Accuracy!
Many riders (adults included) cut corners - literally! They ride a corner on the same path as a 20m circle (orange dashed line in diagram below). In the May “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” tests with shallow loops, I can pretty much guarantee we will see the best loops created from the riders who ride the best corners. Riding into the corners gives you and your pony more space - more time to plan and set up your next move. Get into the habit on the flat, and it will pay dividends round a course of jumps too!
As the rider progresses in their journey, corners become a valuable part of the horse’s training. Very green horses will not be able to balance if ridden deeply into a corner – a horse’s training generally starts with the corners being ridden as that 20m circle line. But as the horse becomes more supple and balanced, they can manage those deeper corners, and each well ridden corner is like a mini gym exercise for your horse, working to activate their inside hind and engage them leg to hand.
Try to encourage your riders to think of a corner as more like the path of a 10m circle (red lines) For older riders, you can get them to practice riding a 10m circle in walk or trot (depending on their ability) every corner... this will also help create good habits and improve suppleness in the pony they are riding.
For younger riders, often a visual cue is needed, and a well placed block or cone in the corner can help. Ride around the outside of the block for a corner, and inside the block for a 20m circle. Once they've got the idea, try placing blocks just in two corners at one end of the school, and see if they can re-create the correct lines at the other end of the school without the aid of the blocks!