Horse Training – Lateral Suppleness Exercises

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Get your horse supple by riding circles

If you are working on your horse training, use these simple exercises to help develop suppleness within your horse. A supple horse will be able to perform tasks easily and comfortably. If your horse is stiff or difficult to turn use these simple exercises to develop suppleness.

If you find that you or your horse are continually falling in or drifting out on the circle perform these simple exercises to help maintain the shape and size of a circle.

Circle Set Up

In your ring or arena set up four jump rails the shape of a square. Have the rails so the outside of the square is roughly

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Place ground rails in a square to help shape your circles

 a 15 to 20 metre circle. There will be gaps at the end of the jump rails. The rails are used to help keep the horse from fallingin on the circle.


Start the exercise by walking on the outside of the rails. Use the corners of the square to mark the 4 points of a circle. Maintian the shape by using the correct aids (inside leg on the girth, outside leg behind the girth, inside rein creating bend and outside rein for support) and make the horse bend evenly throughout from the tips of the horse’s ears to the tip of his tail. Avoid having too much or more bend in the neck and less in the body of the horse.

Continue on the circle at the trot and canter. Use the square as a guide to make the circle better.

Additional Exercises

After you are able to walk, trot and canter on the outside of the square, do a small circle and ride on the INSIDE of the poles. This is an excellent exercise to develop bend throughout the horse’s body. While working on this exercise concentrate on:

  1. Your position. Keep your weight centred and equal weight in each stirrup. Eyes up and plan your circle.
  2. Your supporting rein. A secure outside rein contact will help the horse maintain the bend and prevent the horse from falling out on the circle.
  3. Your horses energy. As you circle on the smaller diametre, you horse may want to slow down and shuffle along. Keep the energy engaged and the horse marching forward.

~Tip~ Plan your circle by looking forward around the path you will follow. Help riders keep the circle round use ground rails that have the centred marked so that you can ‘hit’ the marker in the middle of the rail. Having a focal point will help riders aim and get to the right spot and make their circles better.

About Laura

Laura Kelland-May is the founder of Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Development Program. She more than trains horses, she trains people to train their horses. In addition she is a Sr. Judge and can offer insight into What the Judge Is Looking For. Follow her here and get more tips.
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