Because horses are animals with minds of their own, they will often tend to take the easy way out when you school in an arena and attempt to cut corners, literally. Many people believe that a horse can support himself through corners, and thus often make no effort to aid him with the task. This usually results in an unbalanced, stiff horse, or worse – one that cuts corners completely. If you take a look at any typical lesson program, you’ll find riding instructors are often yelling “Don’t cut corners!” This is a useful reminder. Ideally, the horse should been deeply into each corner and feel well-balanced and supple.
Often, there are two main reasons why horse and rider will cut arena corners. Sometimes the rider is inexperienced and has never been taught to support his or her for horse them correctly. Maybe they’ve allowed their horse to get away with it more than once. Alternatively, the horse may be untrained and stiff in the body and DOS will often opt to where the corner all together. Generally, there is much or rider can do in that situation to help the horse.
Many riders feel that turning through corners correctly stated all that important. This is far from the truth, especially for those who ride and show dressage. Not only can well-ridden turns result in extra marks, it can also supple and prepare the horse for the next required movement.
In order to improve your corners, the horse must be decently fit and healthy and should be able to maintain a balanced trot on at least a 20 meter circle. Early on, never push your horse so far into the corner that the only way complete a halfway decent turn is by hauling on the reins. Not only is this unbalancing for the horse, but it can also be a negative training experience.
The aids for riding a corner should be one of the first things you learned as a novice rider. For example, if the horse is tracking to the right, you’re inside hand should lightly control the bend and should lead him through the turn. The inside leg on the girth supplies the forward movement and also aids in bending the horse’s body. The outside hand supports balance and degree of bend, while the outside leg prevents the horse’s hindquarters swinging out.
When bending through the corner, outside rein contact can be lightened slightly, but do not throw the contact away completely as can unbalance the horse by allowing too much inside neck bent. To prevent the hindquarters swinging out, the outside leg should lightly work the horse behind the girth. This should be a gentle motion, not a kick.
Most corner schooling can and should be done at a trot. At first a sitting trot may be ideal, as it offers the rider a more stable position. The horse should be actively and rhythmically trotting, with a relaxed pace. Never ask too much from your horse at first, simply to ensure his confidence.
Gregory Encina Billikopf. “Passing the Corner & Bending.” A Passion for Dressage.