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Training Exercise - Riding Squares with Rochelle King-Andrews

This article is from the September 2020 Horse Deals magazine.

Photo: Amy-Sue Alston

Photo: Amy-Sue Alston

Rochelle King-Andrews is an Australian FEI dressage competitor and trainer and the head coach and trainer at KEA Training Stables. Rochelle conducts sold-out clinics throughout Australia and New Zealand. Rochelle is best known for her ability to train any horse to be happy and winning, she loves being able to make the horses enjoy their lives as athletes. All her favourite horses in her career she has produced from foal to Grand Prix.

Riding Squares

The Aim:

One of my favourite exercises is squares. Many riders use too much inside rein, causing the horse to be unable to function biomechanically. The nose is turned too much by overuse of inside rein, the rider pushes the horse’s inside hindleg diagonally to the outside shoulder, where he falls out. The rider is then no longer able to sit long and deep through both seat bones and legs, but is pushed to the outside of the horse’s spine, causing him discomfort and loss of balance. If you watch all the top dressage, showjumpers and eventing riders they all turn correctly with the outside rein. Picture a perfect canter pirouette, the horse is in self-carriage and the rider turns the pirouette with the outside rein. Of course, both reins and both legs must be applied but never more inside rein than outside rein when turning a circle.

The Exercise:

1. If your horse has never been taught to turn using the outside aids, the first step is to use turn on the haunches to help him understand rein and leg a little better.

2. For the square, we start on a 20-metre circle. We put a little more weight on the inside seat bone and then ask the horse rather than a curved line, to make a straight line from point to point. We apply outside rein and outside leg and teach the horse to turn from his outside aids.

3. Start in the walk and then proceed to trot. Note that when you rise, you must place your weight on the inside heel. Keep the pace steady so he doesn’t lose his balance as he readjusts to your weight being placed correctly.

4. When you perfect it in the trot, try it in canter. You must collect a few strides before each turn, so it is brilliant for beginning collection.

Rochelle’s Tips:

• Do not use bend at the beginning. This exercise is not a circle, it’s for helping the horse’s shoulders turn easier, and to help him understand the outside aids.

• It’s okay to have a counter bend.

• Eyes up, visually set your line and hands softly forward to your line.

• Put out some cones or markers so you can see your line more clearly.

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