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Patterns have been a part of riding since the time and writings of Xenophon, Athenian historian, soldier, and horseman. 

In his work published about 355 BC, Xenophon describes riding a volte (small circle) and other patterns to strengthen and supple the horse. 

As with many modern practices, the things we do are not new. 

There are three riding patterns that are very common, and for good reason – when ridden correctly, they encourage the horse to bend evenly to both sides, go straight, keep better balance through turns, and maintain an even tempo. 

At the same time, these patterns hone the rider’s skills of balance and using the aids. 

Watch the video below to learn these three most common riding patterns and the specific benefits of each. 

P.S. For more patterns and riding exercises, organized by beginner, intermediate, and advanced, check out Stay in the Saddle – 67 Exercises for Horse and Rider

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15 Responses

  1. I joined Horseclass several months ago and have learned so much from the helpful short videos. I am a retired teacher, just about to turn 70. I have a lovely little Quarter Horse mare who used to barrel race with my daughter and now is learning dressage together with me. Slowly, she is building her top line and I am developing stability and strength. I am so grateful for the Facebook community and the positivity of comments. Thank you Callie for sharing your knowledge so generously. I have not yet signed up to purchase a program, but I plan to in the near future.

    1. Hi Eleanor, thank so much for your kind words about our videos! I’m glad that they have been helpful with your mare 🙂

      We’d love to have you join us in a program in the future,

      -Julia, HorseClass Community Manager

  2. I love riding the quarter line. We are so crooked sometimes (!) but it keeps both me and my horse honest and really lets me know when I’m not using my aids as well as I could be.

  3. I like riding the spiral starting at approx. a 10-15 meter circle and then spiraling down maybe two circles to a turn on the fore at the end and then halting. It keeps the bend correct, crossing over of the hind feet correct, keeps me aware of my aids to keep the horse’s shoulder from dropping.

  4. I have your book! Riding a square has been helpful, recently, to keep my mare from anticipating the bend and/or leaning in. Serpentines are also great for keeping her from anticipating the canter in a circle.
    (Yes, anticipating things is what we struggle with the most. She tries way too hard to read my mind. “Now, mom? Now is it time? How about now?”😂)

    1. Changing up the exercises is key for horses that start to anticipate, glad the exercises have been helpful 🙂

      -Julia, HorseClass Community Manager

  5. I find riding a circle at each corner of the arena useful also sometimes including a circle at the mid points of the long sides 😊

  6. I hope to be volunteering at a horse therapy location in Spring/Summer 2021… I think this is going to come in handy for either the trained horses or the horses that are just LED around with the individuals thank you Manley

    1. Absolutely! Volunteering is a great way to gain more experience with horses 🙂

      -Julia, HorseClass Community Manager

  7. I’ve recently used riding a square, and this helps him to correctly bend (he counter bends because of his lack of balance in a small ring). I also use the quarter line for the same reason.

    1. Riding the quarter line is a great exercise – that is one that Callie shares in the book too!

      -Julia, HorseClass Community Manager

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