On the rink: 5 exercises with 4 cones

Square, Practical, Good: Hero Merkel’s creative training with four towers requires the body and the brain. Towers fixed – get started right away!


Anyone can do these exercises using the edging field: no matter if you are dressage and riding off the ground or running free with your horse, ride like a dressage rider or want to use long reins or a double lunge line again. The exercises are independent of riding style and can be adapted to any level of horse and rider training.


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5 exercises with 4 cones

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You only need one structure – and you get many creative training options. “The training is mentally challenging for both the horse and the rider,” says Hero Merkel. “It’s a great way to get out of the daily grind.”


Building: You only need four cones for these exercises. Build them in a box. There must be a distance of at least three meters between the cones for the movement of the feet. A distance of four to five meters is ideal for jogging and paddling. However, the square can also be larger, with distances of up to seven metres, if tight turns are still difficult for you and your horse. For individual exercise variants, the box can simply stay in place. You don’t have to rebuild anything.


How to use the box effectively and comfortably:


  • Warm up your horse before exercising to walk. You can also take a walk before exercising.
  • Start each exercise in step one. This gives you time to absorb the lines and prepare your horse accordingly. If the exercise works fluently and harmoniously in walking, you can also work in trotting and cantering.
  • Shifts and cadence changes within the gait are effective variants of exercise.
  • Build in regular breaks and hand changes – as in normal training.
  • Play with the distances between the towers. This allows you to test how a larger or smaller square affects the flow.
  • You can mix and match exercises. They do not have a fixed arrangement.
  • Build the training in small steps: first practice the horse’s easy lines. If the exercise works with fluency, subtle body language, and assistance, you can increase the demands.
  • It matters not only the head of the horse, but also the head of the jockey: you should always plan in advance what you want the horse to do next. Keep focus.

Exercise not working? Keep calm and review the requirements. Or practice a character the horse is good at – then try again.


Why breaks are so important: It’s not about training as much as possible – it’s about improving communication. Creativity challenges the brain. The horse has to think and listen. You can’t just relax a lesson on and off. So that the brain can store what has been learned and the movement sequences remain easy and relaxed, breaks in time on the long lead are important.


“If the horse is pushed out, loses pulse, or looks tired or tense – then a break is sorely needed,” says Hero Merkel. The earlier you notice such signs, the faster you will react (more on the topic of taking a break in the article “Take a break”).


Exercise 1: Big and small eight for the brain

This is how it’s done: In the junior eight, the eight rides around cones 1 and 4. In the big eight, the first arc of the eight goes around cones 1 and 2, and the second arc goes around cones 4 and 3. There is no set time limit for the exercise. Pay attention to signals from your horse and include pauses when necessary (see above for pauses).

Exercises with 4 cones

Cavallo

Exercise 1: Big and small eight for the brain

It connects the cerebral hemispheres: Several changes in direction ensure that the two halves of the horse’s brain are intertwined. “This always happens when the right and left side receive the same stimulus alternately – as with the eight,” explains Hero Merkel. Wild horses are less neurologically connected than our domesticated horses. They react instinctively. But you want a horse to think about riding with you. Well-connected horses show less instinct to flee and stay more grounded. Therefore, the number 8 exercise is especially suitable for nervous and young horses. Also, according to the trainer, horses with good relationships may be less focused on food and less clinging to their peers. In general, the reactions become more clear and accurate.


Exercise 2: New ways with a system

This is how it’s done: Alternate between the straight line on the outside of two cones – then on the diagonal. Start at pylon 1. Then go straight along one side of the square to the cone 2. This is the straight path. After cone 2, rotate diagonally between 2 and 4, then arc around the outside of 4 – without changing direction. From 4 start straight back to 1 and from there to the diagonal. After four passes or four diagonals, take a break and switch hands.

Exercises with 4 cones

Cavallo

Exercise 2: New ways with a system

Thinking Against Boredom: “This is the best exercise against boredom,” says Hero Merkel. The rider suffers from mental challenges. He must always maintain focus and reformulate the path. The horse cannot be run through a known program. Training the horse and the human to pay attention and the ability to focus.


Exercises with 4 cones

Lisa Radlin

Scan the lines also on foot: You can also use the chassis for driving exercises.

Exercise 3: An endless loop around three towers

This is how it’s done: Here you’re practicing an endless loop with two arcs, each extending a little bit “turning around the corner”. One loop goes to the left, and one goes to the right. Inside the exercise there is already a change of hand. Give yourself and the horse some time to get in. Then only practice as long as you feel in tune.

Exercises with 4 cones

Cavallo

Exercise 3: An endless loop around three towers

For the brain and forward: “By changing direction, this exercise also connects the two hemispheres of the horse’s brain. However, the change of direction does not come as quickly as with the number eight. The horse has the straight time to move forward with momentum. Well suitable for horses where you want to boost more Fun running after bending over.


Exercise 4: A quarter turn at the corner and straight lines alternately

This is how it’s done: In each column, include a quarter turn around the front of the hand. Then it goes straight to the next cone. As a variant, you can also go around the back – or switch between turns in the front and back. The exercise can be increased into stick rotation.

Exercises with 4 cones

Cavallo

Exercise 4: A quarter turn at the corner and straight lines alternately

For straight line and rotation: The exercise approach to getting from square to bend is already hundreds of years old. “François Robichon de la Gignaire is said to have developed his own boat rims,” ​​says Hero Merkel. In addition, exercise can promote straightening. The rider must frame the horse well with the aid so that it returns correctly from a quarter turn to the straight line.


Exercise 5: front and back square

This is how it works: Prepare the square of the smaller pylon at first – about 3 by 3 metres. Or practice inside the conical square. Start from pylon 1 in a straight line to pylon 2. Between 2 and 3 the horse makes a lateral pass, full traversal, over the straight line: “The horse moves sideways and bends in the direction of movement,” the trainer explains. Legs move diagonally. The horse moves in space without turning around. At Pylon 3, start the backhand movement to Pylon 4. Between Towers 4 and 1 you enter the side lane again. Take a break after a tour. Then repeat the exercise to the right.

Exercises with 4 cones

Cavallo

Exercise 5: front and back square

Improves rhythm in trotting: “The vigorous lateral movement with an inclined sequence of steps helps the horses to speed up the trot – even though the actual exercise is on the way,” explains Hero Merkel. You apply the exercise to patch horses that have trouble trotting. After the round in the field, you then jog to the horses and check if the rhythm has improved. The side aisles also connect the two hemispheres as direction changes.


expert

Exercises with 4 cones

Lisa Radlin

Champion Merkel is a stunt and show racer.

Hero Merkel is a stunt and show racer who trains her horses in both classic dressage and freestyle action. Therefore, varied exercises are important to them. The trainer attaches great importance to strengthening the horse’s character. That’s why you often work with tasks that better connect the horse’s brain – such as the yard of the pylon.




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