An incredibly useful training aid, arena mirrors give you immediate feedback on your riding, boosting your confidence and improving your horse’s way of going.
Most riders would love to have a trainer with them each time they ride, but realistically this isn’t possible. The visual feedback that comes from in an arena with mirrors can really help you monitor your riding, progress between lessons and give you the confidence to school on your own.
But how should you introduce your horse to mirrors if he’s never seen them?
Treat the mirrors as though they have always been there.
Work at a distance from the mirrors at first, riding past them. Once your horse relaxes, pass the mirrors at a closer distance, until you can calmly ride right alongside them.
The mistake most people make is to confront the horse with the mirror head on, which makes it an issue.
If the horse wants to inspect the mirror closely, then that’s fine, but there is no need to force him to face it. This just makes him more afraid.
The sensible thing to do is to ride alongside the mirror with your horse slightly flexed away from it. Then he should accept it calmly.
The benefits of using arena mirrors
To make sure you’re sitting correctly in the saddle.
To monitor whether your horse is working in a correct outline.
To check whether movements are being ridden accurately.
To check is your horse is straight.
To check the accuracy of your lateral work.
To see if your horse is working properly through his back.
To check if the hindlegs are properly engaged.
To ensure your rein contact is even.
To find out more about using mirrors in the arena, read the full article in issue 447, available here.
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