Ride with purpose! Use geometry.
Many of us saddle up, then just meander around in the arena without much purpose or direction. Remember, if we’re not making the decisions, the horse certainly will be!
When I ride, I never allow the horse to choose anything. Before I ask my horse to move, I make the decision exactly when I want him to move, the direction I want to go and how I want to get there. I may, for example, want to transition from standing still immediately to a lope, or I may simply want to walk forward in a straight line. Obviously, this doesn’t go perfectly every time, but I always try.
If we’re riding a reining or a dressage pattern there are specific marks where the horse should do specific things like draw a circle or maybe a simple straight line (which is more difficult to do correctly than you may think). To get your horse good at this and develop good communication, never ride aimlessly! Always choose a specific place to be. I like to use geometry! When in the arena, I strive for drawing lines. Either a straight line, circles or partial circles, squares or rectangles etc. My goal is to place my horse’s feet exactly where I want them.
Try this sometime…get some markers. You can use cones, chalk or weighted paper cups.Mark a true circle in your arena or riding area, then ride that circle at a trot or lope! Each lap, try to place your horse’s feet in the exact same path as the previous circle (I really like it after a rain or a freshly dragged arena where you can see you tracks). I think you’ll find this is easier said than done, but if you always strive for this type of precision you might be surprised how much better you and your partner will become!
Remember…If you are not sure where you want to go, how do you expect your horse to know?