The Shallow loop is an exercise that teaches your horse to bend in both directions while laying the groundwork for lateral exercises. Begin at the walk and start with a 10-meter shallow loop. When you start with the deeper shallow loop, you make the exercise easier. Easier to teach your horse, and easier for you to learn. Slowing down and taking a longer path gives you the rider more time to organize your thoughts and your aids. It also helps you stay in the moment, allowing you to plan and, think. Be thoughtful about where to look, how to apply your leg and hand aids, and where your shoulders and seat are over the back of your horse.
This exercise includes two changes of bend. The changes in bend should happen at the quarter-lines as you are moving towards then away from the center-line before you ask your horse for a change in bend give your horse notice with a half-halt. As you are riding, take note how your horse responds when you break the question down into manageable parts. If you or your horse are struggling practice the same loop in both directions at the walk, stay at the walk until you are confident and comfortable and master this task.
Only when you have mastered the exercise at a walk, should you try it at the trot. When you change what you are doing you escalate the difficulty of the exercise, so don’t try at speed or change the loop unless you are ready. When you change your gait or make the loop shallower, the changes in bend come up quickly. So take your time and make sure you are ready.
When you ride your horse through this exercise, do not push yourself, or your horse past your fitness levels do not ask for more than you can reasonably accomplish. When you slow the exercise, down and you stop before you are exhausted you are making it doable, and exercises when done properly are building a foundation for future success and solid training.
When you feel like you have mastered the exercise at a walk, and you try the trot and if everything falls apart step back. Simply go back to the walk re-establish the successful connection with your horse then try the trot work again or stop for the day at the walk. Then introduce the trot work the next time you ride. It is always a good idea when you reach the point when you are getting tired start looking for a good place to end, go back to the barn and groom and hug your horse.