Why do rodeo horses go in circles?

Answered by James Kissner

Rodeo horses go in circles for several reasons. Firstly, the circular movement is a fundamental schooling exercise that helps to train and condition the horse. It allows the horse to work on their balance, coordination, and flexibility. By going in circles, the horse is able to engage and strengthen their muscles, particularly in their hindquarters and core.

In addition to the physical benefits, going in circles also helps to develop the horse’s mental focus and responsiveness to the rider’s aids. The constant bending around the inside leg requires the horse to become more supple and attentive to the rider’s cues. This lateral flexion helps to establish a connection between the horse’s brain and body, allowing for better communication and control.

Another reason why rodeo horses go in circles is that it prepares them for more complex maneuvers and patterns that they may encounter in the arena. Many rodeo events require horses to perform tight turns and quick changes of direction, such as in barrel racing or pole bending. By practicing circles, the horse learns how to navigate these types of maneuvers with greater ease and precision.

Furthermore, going in circles can also serve as a warm-up exercise before engaging in more intense or demanding activities. It helps to loosen up the horse’s muscles, increase their heart rate, and prepare them mentally for the upcoming work. This can be particularly important in rodeo events where horses often need to perform at their peak performance level within a short period of time.

It is worth noting that the size and speed of the circles may vary depending on the specific discipline or training goals. For example, in reining, horses may be asked to perform small, collected circles at a slow speed to demonstrate their ability to maneuver precisely. On the other hand, in events like cutting or roping, horses may need to make larger, faster circles to effectively work cattle or rope a steer.

Rodeo horses go in circles for various reasons. It helps to develop their physical fitness, mental focus, and responsiveness to the rider’s aids. It also prepares them for the specific maneuvers and patterns required in rodeo events. Whether it’s for schooling, warm-up, or competition purposes, the circle is a foundational movement that plays a crucial role in the training and performance of rodeo horses.