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Here are some take-aways from Les’s recent columns introducing circles, departures and speed control.

Lope Departures
Collection: Before you can have walk to lope departures, you must be able to collect your horse without resistance. If you find resistance or a stiff spot, fix it before continuing.

Best frame: Straight through the head, neck, shoulders, ribs, and hips.

Acceptable: Head to the inside, shoulder to the outside.

Unacceptable: Head to the outside, shoulder to the inside.

Departures: Keep your weight back. Ride the back of the horse up to the front of the horse. Speed up the hindquarters and slow down the forequarters. If the horse lifts his neck, the departure is lost; abort, work on the neck and then try again.

The horse’s frame should follow the arc or circumference line of the circle.

Circle exercises: In a freshly-drug arena, ride a circle as round as you can, then repeat and try to follow in your tracks. Ride a circle as round as you can, then ride a circle next to it and try to “copy” the size and shape of your first circle. Experiment with different-sized circles. When you can do an exercise perfectly in frame, try it again out of frame. Bend to the inside (shoulder out) or the outside (shoulder in). Alternate between in and out of frame

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