Therapeutic riding is offered to those with special needs to provide physical, emotional , behavioral, and cognitive benefits. Horseback riding increases strength, agility, mobility, and improved motor skills.
One single exercise to get all of the aforementioned benefits is the circle. It uses both gross and fine motor skills to accomplish the task. Circling forces balance and core strength for the rider to stay centered on the horse’s back, triggering gross motor skills, and it requires the rider to use fine motor skills to pull the reins and turn the horse’s head. Circles also require focus and attention from the rider to maintain a continuous hold on the reins and a rein-to-hip connection to complete the task.
For more advanced riders, circles provide an opportunity to learn about separating aids – inside and outside rein, inside and outside leg – and keeping the horse on a track. Asking a rider to circle twice in the same track requires a higher level of focus to get the horse to stay on the same track.
Try adding circles into your next lesson and be mindful of each part of the circle. Leave a comment below and let me know what you notice!