The Spiral Circle

The spiral in and leg-yield out is a great exercise not only to get the horse focused and ready work, but also to work on suppleness and collection. This exercise can be done at the trot and at the canter.  Give it a try and let me know if this is a helpful exercise for you!

  1. Start on an accurate 20 meter circle.  Make sure that the horse is correctly bending on the circle line.  Your inside leg should be at the girth to keep the horse from falling in, and the outside leg behind the girth to keep the hind end from falling out. 
  2. Gradually spiral in to an 18, 15, 12, and finally a 10 meter circle.  Be sure to maintain the same tempo and to help the horse stay correctly bending in the body as the circle gets smaller.
  3. Once you’ve established the 10 meter circle, leg-yield the horse back out to the 20 meter circle by pushing the horse off of the inside leg.  When you leg-yield out, think of making the hind end lead on the way out and focus on feeling the inside leg to outside rein connection.

This exercise can also be done at the trot or the canter. In the canter it’s a great exercise to develop adjustability.  When making the circle smaller, you are actually doing some steps of half pass as you are making the circle smaller! Be sure that in the canter, you keep the inside leg at the girth and the outside leg behind the girth as you leg-yield the horse back out to the bigger circle or the horse may think of doing a flying change!

Common mistakes:

  • Horse slows down and looses energy on the smaller circle
  • Horse doesn’t bend correctly – this will become more apparent as the circle gets smaller
  • On the stiff side, the horse will want to fall in and not bend, it will be difficult to leg-yield back to the bigger circle.  
  • On the hollow side, the horse will tend to fall out and not let you turn them in

Give this exercise a try! It really is an awesome exercise for horses and riders of all levels!


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