I don't know about anyone else but I find that I get really bored schooling and riding cricles. Going through some old mags and books the other day I found an article with 10 basic arena exercises that helped me break the monotony of it all. Alot of them are just variations of basic exercises that you may already know but I hope someone will get something out of them They all have options to increase or decrease the difficulty and skills required so you can taylor the difficulty to you and your horse. They are also good for improving your horses responsiveness, suppleness and muscle tone. I hope you find them as useful as I have.**) NOTE ** To get the most out of these exercises, make sure you - ride each exercise in both directions. - Use your inside leg on the girth to bend your horse on circles and through turns. Use your outside leg just behind the girth PLUS your outside rein against his neck to reinforce his bending. -Use your leg at or just behind the girth and the same side rein ahainst the neck to ask for lateral movement. - Work to make your cues as light and as supple as possible - Look ahead to where you are going not down at your horse or the ground. THE BASIC 8 How To Ride It: Make a figure of 8, using the straight line of the centre to change your horses bend before heading in the new direction. Perks For You: Improves your ability to bend your horse, guide him precisleystraight between your reins whilst bent to the curve of the circle. Perks For The Horse: Encourages him to bend equally both ways and stay in tune to your steering. Success Tips: Focus on keeping your circles round and even in size. pay attension to the amount of rein and leg needed to get the correct bend. Add a cone or marker at the centere of the 8 as a visual cue if needed. Change It Up: Keep it simple by staying at a walk or a jog. make it more challenging by varying your speed, changing gaits at x or riding at a canter and changing leads at X. BIG CIRCLE/LITTLE CIRCLE How To Ride It: Go down the long side of your arena, making a small circle in one corner, continue around the arena then make a large circle in the diagonally oppisite corner. Perks For You: Enhanced ability to bend your horse to varying degrees. Perks For The Horse: Increased supplying and steering, teaches him to balance an circles of varying size. Success Tips: Choose landmarks around the arena to help you circle at the right point for the correct size cricle you are wanting to ride. Change It Up: Vary which corners you ride the small and large circles, make it more challenging by varying the speeds and changing gaits ie lope the large circle and jog the small one, or jog the circles and lope the long side of the arena getting to the next corner. LOOPY B How To Ride It: Go down the long side of the arena turning the corner as if to make a circle. Instead of completing the circle, angle back to the rail, go straight a stride or 2 on the rail then angle back out and circle round to your starting point making a loopy B. Perks For You: Improves your skill at bending and straightening your horse and control. Perks For The Horse: Propmpts him to listen to you rather than assume you are going to make a full circle. If you 2 track him, it improves his lateral flexibility as well. Success Tips: Try to make each end of the loopy B the same size and shape. Change It Up: Keep it simple by staying at a walk or trot. Make it more challenging by riding at a lope and changing leads on the straight line at the centre. Up the ante at any gait by using your outside rein and leg to move your horse laterally back to the rail in a forward and sideways 2 track. SNAKY SERPENTINE How To Ride It: Make a series of connected S's back and forth across the width of your arena. Perks For You: Forces you to focus on each new turning point, changing your rein and leg cues at each change of direction. Perks For The Horse: Sharpens your horses bending skills. Improves his lightness and flexibility as well as improving his listening to your cues. Success Tips: Try to make each loop the same size and shape. Change It Up: Keep it simple with olnly 2 or 3 loops. Up the ante by adding 4 or 5 narrower loops. very challenging at the lope, where you must repeatedly change leads on each straight line or counter canter around every other loop. OFF THE RAIL RECTANGLE How To Ride It: Rather than staying directly on the rail, ride parallel to it, about 8 to 10 feet to the inside. Perks For You: Teaches you to keep your horse straight between the reins with no rail to guide or support you or him. Perks For The Horse: Teaches him to rely on your cues rather than "coast"along on the rail. Success Tips: Start a a walk then progress to the trot and lope. Change It Up: Make it more challenging by varying your speeds on the short and long side ie speed up on the long side, slow down and collect on the short side. SPIRAL How To Ride It: Move from the outside of a large circle to the smallest circle possible by slowly spiraling down toward the centre, then spiral back out to the large circle. Perks For You: Improves your spatial sense of circles and your go-lateral cues. Perks For The Horse: Imprves his bending and collection as well as improving the responsiveness to your leg and rein cues. Also helps to keep him supple and limber and engaged behind. Success Tips: Focus on maintaining a consistent speed. As the circle gets smaller, you may have to drive him a little harder to maintain implusion. Change It Up: This is challenging at any gait; stay at a walk until you get the hang of it before attempting at the trot or lope. LONGWAYS SERPENTINE How To Ride It: Make a serpentine the length of the arena, rather than the width.At the X, do something. Stop, perform a maneuver (sidepass, pivot, backup etc) or cue a lead change if at a lope. Then continue down the remainder of the centre line, turning back up the rail in the oppisite direction. Perks For You: Makes you work to keep your horse straight down the centre line, before and after the X. Perks For The Horse: Enhances his traveling straight, bending and transition skills. Success Tips: Have a cone at centre and ends as visual markers. Change It Up: Keep it easy with a simple stop or gait change at the cetnre or up the antes with a lead change, sidepass, spin etc. change what you do each time to up the antes further and prevent him anticipating what you are about to do. CADENCE BUILDER How To Ride It: Increase the speed and extend riding down each long side of the arena, slow and collect around the short sides. Perks For You: Helps you learn how to increase and decrease speed smoothly. Perks For The Horse: Encourages your horse to collect himself. teaches him to increase and decrease speed without getting excited as well as developing the muscles he needs for collection. Success Tips: Steady your horse down just before the slow downgoing to the corners. Change It Up: Keep it simple by staying at the walk or the trot. Make it more more challenging by riding it a a lope or loping the long sides and trotting the ends. TRANSITION TUNER How To Ride It: Work on the rail, performing gait transitions at the mid point of each straightway of both the long and short sides. ie start at the walk, at the first x jog, next x lope, or go back to walk - however you like. Perks For You: Helps you smooth your upward and downward transitions as well as enhancing your over all control. Perks For The Horse: Maintains his focus on you, improves his collection and builds his hind end muscles. Success Tips: Make mental notes of the transition points before starting, so you can begin prepping yourself a stride or 2 before each x. Add visual markers if need be. Change It Up: Make it more challenging by working at faster gaits or asking for a complete stop. Or go from lope to walk, halt to lope, or include a backup as well. Mix it up so your horse stays tuned in to you. SQUARED OFF CIRCLE How To Ride It: Think of a square with rounded corners. Ride straight to each corner, bend him through the turn then realign him for the next straightway. Perks For You: More challenging than a circle. keeps you thinking and really riding. Perks For The Horse: Helps him understand the difference between bending and travelling straight. Success Tips: Add a cone or marker at each corner for a visual cue. Change It Up: Make it easier by keeping at a walk or a jog and/or widening the turn at each corner. make it more difficult by making him work at the lope and/or riding tighter corners. Feel free to add any you have. The more the better.