The advantage of working in circles

Generally speaking, riding in a circle or a volte allows one to achieve collection; it also allows us to control our horse more easily. The final objective is to improve the engagement of the hindquarters, to achieve the lowering of the points of the hips, relaxation of the shoulders and obtain development of the back and the abdominal muscles, as well as ensuring the bending of the back which must overlap the curve of the circle.

The horse’s head must be bent slightly inwards, enough to see part of the horse’s inside eye.

One must start moving forward in a circle at a walk and then at a trot and a canter, starting on the rein at which the horse feels most comfortable, more supple. The best side is usually the side on which the mane grows. One must ask the horse to bend slightly using the inside hand. As soon as the horse accepts this and relaxes, one immediately releases the aid. he sequence therefore is flexion – response – release.

Before collection and accepting the bit, horses need to train in the opposite conditions, i.e. they need to extend their bodies as much as possible. Horses need to feel free to stretch their necks as much as possible to jump large oxers or eat grass. So, let us all learn to move forward with our hands and allow them this freedom.

Michel Robert for Team WOW