How to ride a 10m loop in dressage explained in 5 easy steps


  • When watching others ride, the 10-metre loop can look relatively straightforward. But when you’re in the saddle, it can feel like there’s a lot going on. If you feel this way, you might find yourself avoiding them altogether in your schooling sessions. Sound familiar? If so, you could be missing out on a whole host of benefits you could be enjoying by learning how to ride a 10m loop.

    For starters, 10m loops feature in plenty of dressage tests and lack of accuracy will lose you marks. More broadly, 10m loops are an excellent exercise for improving balance and suppleness as well as introducing the horse to counter-canter.



    How to ride a 10m loop

    As with any new movement, visualising pulling the whole thing off can feel daunting — so let’s break the movement down into some practical steps you can follow in the saddle. Starting in trot…

    1. Begin by riding deep into the corner. Apply a half-halt on the short side to balance the trot, then push your horse into the corner with your inside leg, keeping your outside leg and contact secure.
    2. While in the corner, look up and ahead to X, so you leave the track at the corner marker while maintaining activity and a slight inside bend.
    3. Ride towards X — it may be a steeper angle than you expect. Shortly after leaving the track, change your horse’s bend as the line you’re riding curves towards the centre line. Apply your new inside leg to push your horse into the new outside rein, keeping your new outside leg secure so he doesn’t drift.
    4. The uppermost part of your loop should momentarily bisect the centreline at X — but don’t linger here. Immediately look for the next corner marker, and begin your return to the track by the mirroring the gradient of the first half of your curve. Be mindful of your rhythm and the pull of the outside track — your horse may drift through his shoulder to hasten back.
    5. Just before you return to the corner marker, softly switch back to the original bend in preparation for the corner. Use the corner to rebalance and reestablish your horse’s bend.

    Once you are confident in trot, you may want to step up the exercise by performing the 10m loop in canter, bearing in mind things will be happening more quickly. The change of direction allows you to ride a few steps of counter-canter, which is a great for strengthening, suppling and is the first step towards successful flying changes.

    As with any dynamic schooling exercise, 10m loops can run your horse’s battery down. Aim for quality over quantity and give him plenty of breaks.

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