Watch: Improve your horse's engagement

Dressage rider Bobby Hayler shows you an exercise designed to make your horse move with more engagement. 

This simple exercise is ridden on a 20m circle in canter. You're going to ride your horse forward for a few strides before collecting the canter.

Why ride it? 

This is often used as the first stage of teaching your horse collection. Riding it on a 20m circle helps you perfect it because the constant bend of the circle encourages your horse to step through with his inside hind leg.

It's also great to learn to use your seat and body position to steady your horse.

Avoiding the pitfalls

If you use too much rein to collect your horse, you'll block his forward movement and interrupt the rhythm. 

He may also become heavy in the contact and tip onto his forehand, making it more difficult for him to show the change in pace.

How to ride it

  • On a 20m circle, establish a good, relaxed working canter, making sure you're riding an accurate circle.
  • Ask your horse for medium strides for approximately half a circle by relaxing your seat and nudging with your inside leg to ask him to move forwards.
  • Close your thighs and tighten your tummy to ask your horse to collect his canter for three or four strides. 
  • Relax your thighs and tummy to allow your horse forwards again and ask for medium canter again.

Don’t miss the latest issue of Your Horse Magazine, jam-packed with training and veterinary advice, horse-care tips and the latest equestrian products available on shop shelves, on sale now.