A figure eight is two diagonals joined by the ends of the school right?
No. This post is to point out that that’s an egg-timer (or a hourglass if you’re being pernickety), not a nice fat 8.
A figure eight should, and this may come as a surprise, look like an 8. Just two equal sized circles touching at a single point.
There are a couple of benefits to the more circuitous route. For one it allows far more bending for the horse, it’s all bend rather than just end bend. It also fills the available space better, and helps with getting the correct aids (if they aren’t then the circle won’t be either).
Riding a Figure 8
You can ride a Figure 8 anywhere once you have the hang of riding circles, but a couple of easy ones to do cover either the entire school, or at least the width of it.
Assuming a 20x40m school:
Full school 20m, starting on the left rein
- Start at A
- Ride half of a 20m circle left from A (to X)
- At X, ride an entire 20m circle right (back to X)
- Back at X, ride half a 20m circle left (to A)
Half school 10m, starting on the left rein
- Start at B
- Ride half a 10m circle left (to X)
- At X, ride an entire 10m circle right (back to X)
- Back at X, ride half a 10m circle left (to B)
In both above situations you should change your diagonal or canter lead at X to match the rein you’re on.