Arena Figures

Equine Instinct
Measuring a horse
Arena Figures



An important part of learning to ride is  riding figures properly.  For instance, the figure 8 teaches the rider and the horse to change the direction of the bend smoothly, The circle teaches the rider to keep the horse bent evenly and the horse to accept the riders correct aids.  The figures are performed in an arena marked with letters to use as reference points. Cones are also used to help the rider.


Click on an arena diagram to see a larger version of it!

Arena Layout

The dimensions of the arena are 20X60 meters. An arena is divided into 4 quarters with the center line running between A and C. The letters are used by the rider to perform exact figures. The order of the letters can be memorized using the sentence:  A Fat Bay Mare Can Hardly Ever Kick   


20 meter circle at A

A 20 meter circle is often used to teach the rider how to guide the horse using all the aides and to teach the horse to bend ( hind feet follow the tracks of the front feet).

You start the circle at A, then touch the long side 5 meters past F, touch X on the centerline, then 5 meters before K  and finish by touching A.


Figure 8 starting at X

The figure 8 is helpful in working more on the circle and learning to change the direction of the bend smoothly. This can be done in all three gaits. In the canter you will learn to do a simple change of lead. It is important to ride a few straight steps at X before changing direction. This is a very helpful figure as you can vary the size of the circles.

You start the exercise at X, ride a 20 meter circle to the left. At X ride straight 2-4 steps then start your circle to the right ending at X.


10 meter circle or volte

This figure is used after the 20 meter circle has been learned as it requires more bend. Some lateral figures like the shoulder in or the haunches begin with a twenty meter circle.


10 meter half circle at B

The half circle is used to change direction. You can also use a 15 meter circle.

The circle begins at B, circle to X and return to the side you started on. This can be performed anywhere in the arena. This is the maneuver often used to change direction in the show ring.


10 M   half circle in reverse at X

Same as above except you begin at X, perform a half circle to the long side and continue on.


3 loop Serpentine full arena

This figure uses the whole arena to ride three equal loops teaching smooth changes of direction. Notice that when traveling through the center line you ride straight (parallel to the short side). If posting the trot change your diagonal at X.


3 Loop Serpentine to Centerline

The challenge here is to ride three even loops. Start at A or C. Change your posting diagonal when crossing the quarter line.


Change rein across arena

Here is another commonly used figure to change direction. It can be performed anywhere along the long side.


Diagonal F to H

The diagonal starts on the short side. Ride thru the corner then ride thru X,  and arrive at the opposite long side just before the letter  and ride thru the next corner.




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