“Hey! You, ya, you…perfect circle…you’re a jerk!!”

It happened.  That lesson you dread about.  Have nightmares about.  Would rather eat a broken light-bulb then have to go endure. 20.  Meter.  Circle.  The worst – is that normally – I would hope – your coach doesn’t necessarily have it in their game plan to spend 40 minutes on a 20 meter circle, but it ends up happening because you can’t get it right.

Who knew that being able to ride a proper 20 meter circle was comparable to doing quantum physics?  Probably because most 20 meter circles end up being more like 17 – 24 meter goose egg-shaped.

Things that I heard, which really, she should have just put on repeat over the speakers rather than stand there at ‘X’ – and now that I come to think about it should have recorded so that next time rather than paying for my lesson, I can just turn the speakers on:

“She’s not straight.”

“Keep turning….keep turning…keep turning….keep turning” a la ‘Bueller…Bueller…Bueller’

“Why is the apex of your circle not at ‘X’?” ( Good question – because I’m trying to do 16 things at the same time!? That was one of my favourites.  I actually think I stopped at this point and went ‘huh?’)

“When you hit the rail, that doesn’t mean you go straight, keep turning.”

“Keep turning….keep turning…keep turning….keep turning.”

“Supple to the inside….more…MORE!”

“She’s drifting…she’s drifting…still drifting…” (well frig, I know! This unfortunately happens more than I care to admit –  as though Colbs decided to chug a 40 of whisky right before our ride.)

“Don’t let her pop her butt to the outside”

“Bueller…Bueller…Bueller…Bueller…”

Things that helped me– in no particular order – and which I am sure seem very pre-school, but hey, whatever works right?:

 1)      Practice 20m circles in the middle of the arena.  For me, being able to see ‘E’ and ‘B’ helped me (well, not really, but the intention was good) to have points in which I knew to be ‘straight’.

2)      Make corners.  Put two jump poles at 90 degree angles to make your ‘corner’.  Simple, yet effective…just make sure you stay out of them while riding a 20m circle!

3)      Visual aids!!! Tremendous help to me as I am a visual learner.  We started with the cones at the apexes of the circles, about 6 feet apart.  And I missed, more than once…more than five times…but, eventually, we got it and the opening between the two cones got a little smaller.  Technically, I am supposed to be able to fit through an opening of about 2 feet. Insert hysterical laughter here.

4)      I have a hoooorrrible bad habit of looking at the top of Colby’s head when I am schooling rather than looking at where it is I want to be going.  Try not looking ahead on your circle and see how far you get.

a.       After getting a friendly reminder about looking where I was going, I then broke down the circle into quarters.  If I am being completely honest – that one simple suggestion helped me tremendously – probably the most.  Once I was able to nail one ¼ of the circle, I tried for two in a row and so on…no, I didn’t get all 4, but we were close.

b.      Eventually I got to the point of looking a full ¼ ahead.

c.       Oh – each quarter is supposed to have the same number of strides.  So simple, yet so embarrassing that I have never ever thought about riding a circle like that (and for the record, I can hear you all snickering at me from across the Globe).

5)      Walk it on foot.  Seriously – I did that and will continue to do that until I get it right!

I feel as though it is going to be a broken record sort of thing…keep practicing over and over and over again, and eventually it will get easier.  Well, technically that is what is supposed to happen.  For those of you much more versed than I in riding a perfect circle which is bascially everyone other than me, I would love to hear your suggestions and tips and what works for you….regardless of how silly you think they are!

Carrie