I often hear people ask: “can we do something else than a circle for once?”. A lot of (academical) trainers love to work on the circle, but in the long run it can get quite boring for rider and horse. I would always recommend to diversify your training to keep you and your horse challenged. This is why I decided to make a short tutorial about training with the figure 8.
The concept is simple: you place two pawns with about six or seven meters in between. These pawns will be the center of the two circles of your figure 8. You can perform the figure 8 on the longe as well as while riding. Further explanation and suggestions will be in the video below.
Training with the figure 8 is much more intense and hard work than your normal circles and diagonals. The figure 8 is a lot smaller and thus forcing you both to keep concentrated and continuously keep turning your bodies. Training with the figure 8 will help you both get more supple and find balance. Furthermore it can help you optimize your change of bendings.
Another way to make use of your pawns on the figure 8, is to teach your horse exercises next to them. Overall animals learn exercises quicker if you teach them at a recognizable spot. The animal will associate the spot with the exercise and start thinking “oh I know what to do now!”. Once your horse understands the exercise next to the pawn, make sure to start trying the exercise away from the pawn. This way you will know if your horse has really understood your aids and the exercise and was not just performing a trick.
Make sure to watch the video for further explanation and additional exercises on training with the figure 8. If you have any questions on this subject or suggestions for a next video, I would love to hear them!