School figures are a huge help for riding instructors who want to keep their lessons interesting. Not only do they help you keep a group lesson organized, they prevent your students and horses from trotting endless boring circles around the arena.
Using dressage markers or any kind of markers is helpful for giving riders a point of departure for the school figures. Here are the markers for a small arena.
Change the Rein Down The Center Line
Changing the rein down the center line is a good exercise in accuaracy because the horse and rider cannot depend on the wall for straightness.
On the Short Center Line
This change is great for increasing the frequency of changes.
On the Diagonal
Of all the school figures this is the one you will see used the most for extended gaits but it is also a good place for a small jump or trot poles. Place them before or after X so you can continue with the other changes and avoid the obstacles.
You can use these school figures of simple rein changes to make any number of combinations. And you can increase the fun and activity by having the students ride in pairs.
School figures can change group rides from chaos to organized and they keep the riders' and horses' minds busy. Be sure to incorporate proper spacing and also correct turning aids to keep horses from dropping their inside shoulders , cutting turns, or following the horse in front of them. Change the leaders in your groups often so everyone has an opportunity to lead. If you are very creative, add a little music for rhythm and create a group musical ride.
For more on using school figures take a look at this article School Commands and Arena Figures for Every Discipline.
Do you use a favorite arena command or direction to increase interest in your lessons? Will you share in the comments?
Good article. I own the 101 Exercises Books – Dressage, Western, English, Arena Exercises and have printed off a number of others off the internet. Anything to keep from riding around and around the arena 🙂
I love the 101 books. They have lots of useful ideas. It really takes a creative mind to keep lessons interesting and still get the good practice in. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks! Barbara