This exercise is designed to mobilise the shoulders of the horse with 90 degree turns, practice a reinback in a straight line, and work on an egg-shaped turn that will start building into a more laterally balanced turn for outside the stockpen. It is called the Cathedral due to the shape. We have used some markers and a corridor for the reinback. This is not necessary to setup, but it maybe helpful to use markers for green or inexperienced horses to keep the lines straight and circles even. It is recommended to use the poles to mark the arena sides if you don’t have a solid barrier in your riding area.
It is best to start on the long side with the ninety degree turn to practice moving the shoulders of the horse in a moving turn on the haunches, making a tight turn with the arena sides (or poles) as a visual barrier. The purpose of this exercise is to keep the horse upright and in balance as you do the turn. The speed may slow down at first through the turn, but as you practice more, the aim is to do it in the same rhythm as the walk.
Then you have a straight line up the center, halting at the end of the parallel poles (placed approximately 1.5m apart). Gather the horse and ask for a reinback 3 – 5 steps in a straight line. As you progress in reinback the horse should be collecting themselves which will feel like a forward movement backwards, and using diagonal steps (a front and opposite hind going back at the same time).
The final piece is to make an egg-shaped circle in 5 – 10m diameter (larger to start with and aiming for a smaller diameter as a more balanced execution can be achieved). Around the tip of the circle move the shoulders inwards just slightly to direct the horse on a slightly smaller bend. Then continue straight down the long side of the arena (on the quarter line for a 5m diameter and on the track for a 10m circle).
Repeat the exercise in the other direction.
Start on the long side walking from E to K (or alternatively B to F).
Make a right angle turn at the short side.
Make another right angle turn up the centre line.
Halt at the end of the poles (or a few steps after K)
Reinback 3 – 5 steps.
Make a turn before X (Left or Right) creating an egg-shaped circle of 5-10m diameter so that the turn is slightly sharper at the tip.
Continue straight either on the quarter line or long side track (depending on your half circle size).
Repeat in the other direction.
If you would like to film it we would love to see your video posted to our Virtual Working Equitation Competitors group on Facebook. **To join the group our policy is to submit a video either via a competition entry or one of our training exercises – please email email@example.com with your name, horses name, and a short introduction to submit your first video.