If you have problems with balanced turns and your horse often cuts the corners or decreases the circles as if some magical forces drew him in, you might find the below tips useful.
1) leg-yield (for the below exercise to be helpful your horse needs to be familiar with leg-yielding on both reins even if it’s just a few steps yield with limited cross over. They don’t need to be able to be performing dressage test standard leg-yield but need to know what it means to yield away from your inside leg when you ask)
2) Lateral flexion at the poll to the left and right (your horse needs to understand how to react when you ask for flexion left and right. They can’t think you are asking for neck bend or a turn)
(described on the right rein)
Ride down 3/4 line of the arena and prepare to ask the horse for the right turn on a line of a half 15m ish circle. To do so, ask for inside flexion at the poll. When the have horse responded, ask for the turn. As your horse moves his inside front leg to turn, ask him to drift away from your inside leg as if asking for a mini leg-yield.
You want to feel that:
– he shifts his his weight ever so slightly to his outside shoulder, lightens the inside one and slightly curves his neck to the inside.
– you ground/anchor him to his outside shoulder
– your torso stays, what might feel like, on the outside of your horse’s neck (not leaning to the inside)
Repeat those leg-yield/drifty turns until you get your head around riding the horse’s balance a little towards his outside shoulder as he turns and you feel that you are able to ask with your inside leg for his inside hind leg to step deeper under his barrel.
Once you can do these turns with a small drift (think of increasing the circle a couple of meters, no massive leg – yields until the end of the world 😉 ) then try to only use the ability to shift your horse’s weight off his inside shoulder and onto his outside one as he turns.
As he does it, continue on your turn with no drift/leg-yield.
Lighter inside shoulder allows for an easy, relaxed inside flexion and vice – versa. Ability to shift your horse’s weight laterally will help you in many situations, not only to ride better corners and circles but also to approach the jumps in better balance 🙂
Hope this is helpful – happy training 🙂