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Why Arena Mirrors could improve your training

Arena Mirrors Credit Jonathan Hutchins

While arena mirrors have been on professional rider’s yards for a while now, they are now appearing at more and more yards around the country. This is because they can provide you with invaluable information you can’t get from just riding your horse alone.

Another perspective

Have you ever received your dressage sheet and been confused as to why you got the mark or comment you got? If you were lucky enough to have had someone film your test you will have no doubt gone through this video to have a better idea of what the judge was seeing. Most of the time this will help you understand what happened, which is why it is such a fantastic tool to have.

However, most of us don’t have people around every time we ride to film us. And if we are lucky enough to have someone to hand, having to stop and watch the footage back before correcting the issue might be too late. Mirrors give you instant feedback on how you and your horse look and help you identify any issues.

Fun Fact: Approximately 65 percent of the population are visual learners.

Straightness

When I was still at a riding school, we had mirrors at the end of the long side. This meant that you could check if you and your horse were straight. Afterall, horse and rider crookedness can be difficult to spot in the saddle. Often it takes an instructor or someone else to tell you this and it can be tricky to resolve without an extra pair of eyes.

Mirrors help you check for these types of issue instantly while you are riding. Plus I think having a mirror positioned at the end of a centerline is a fantastic way to practice them!

Fun Fact: Visual aids installed in the training arena improve learning by up to 400 percent.

Teaching new movements

When you are teaching a horse a new movement, they can be uncertain and feel a bit weird. It can be hard to tell from this feeling if they are just a bit tense about trying something new, or if they are doing it wrong. Being able to check in a mirror means you have a better idea which one it is and can act accordingly. After all, if it’s just a case of them needing to relax you can repeat the exercise and hope they build confidence and relax. But if they are doing the movement wrong, you might be better stopping and asking a different way.

Lot’s of dressage riders find mirrors particularly useful when teaching flying changes and practicing lateral movements when the position of the horse is important.

Problem Solving

If you have been struggling with something in your training, sometimes you just need to be able to see what the problem is. It’s all good and well an instructor telling you what is happening, but sometimes we need to be able to see it to understand how to fix it.

Fun Fact: 90 percent of information that comes to the brain is visual.

How many mirrors do you need?

Just one well positioned mirror can make a big difference to your training. But for the best view, most people recommend a minimum of 3 landscape mirrors at C so you can see the straightness of your centreline and some of your lateral work.

However, if you have the budget you could go as far as to cover the short side with landscape mirrors with a portrait mirror overlooking the track. This would give you a much better view of your lateral work and enables you to check your straightness on the long sides. You can even have landscape mirrors down the longside around E/B to give you an extra view. But it really depends on your budget and what you are happy spending.

Do you have mirrors in your arena?

Last Updated on 26/07/2023

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