For this week I'm bringing out one of my favorite, and must under rated exercise. A figure eight. Yes, I know you're thinking "Gee, good one, I would have never thought of that by myself." But as I said.... it's grossly under rated. The figure eight is one of my favorite exercises because it's deceivingly simple. First, a kick ass diagram.
So I really only have the one diagram for this exercise because it's not all that elaborate. That's the beauty of it. Also, I know some people ride a figure eight across the long diagonals, but I much prefer it on two circles. The trick to this exercise is keeping the circles the same size, keeping your bend to the same degree throughout, and keeping your pace the same. But much of the magic of this exercise happens at that little red dot. It is the only time your horse is traveling straight and should take no more than one or two strides before you've begun your circle in the opposite direction.
During those one or two strides where you and your horse are straight much is happening. Say you had been traveling right, when you come through the red dot zone your weight should shift slightly left, your left side of your horse's back should drop (and the right should come up), and their spines should change from right to left bend. It's a LOT to make happen in a stride or two!!
I try to keep the circles about 10m a piece and usually ride this exercise at the trot. You could ride it at walk however and if you're super skilled, the canter. Sometimes if Molls is rushing or blowing through me I halt each time I pass through the red dot. I switch my bend before trotting off again, and then repeat.
Not the most exciting exercise, but certainly one I pull out of my "tool box" and find beneficial for almost any horse :)