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15 meter circles

The next circle size you'll encounter in United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) dressage tests is the 15 meter circle. These are found in First Level tests.

The most common rider error seen in 15 meter circles is beginning the circle as if it were a 20 meter circle. The rider will ask the horse to leave the arena rail on the shallow turn that's appropriate for a 20 meter circle. Then, about a quarter of the way through the circle, the rider sees she's not going to make it, and pulls the horse off his feet to complete the turn.

Fifteen meter circles that begin on the long sides of the arena reach to the opposite quarterline. Check your arena map if you don't know where the quarterlines are.

15 meter circles

If you'd like, you can find landmarks to help you find the widest spots on your circle, but that gets a little complicated. When you're starting a 15 meter circle from the long side, if you can aim for the opposite quarterline, and then return to the rail at the letter where you began, you can feel certain that your circle was pretty round (barring potholes and unplanned exuberance on the horse's part).

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15 meter circles at A and C are really tricky! The sides of your circle must touch a spot half-way between the wall and the quarterline (if you try for quarterline-to-quarterline, you'll be doing a 10 meter circle, right?).

15 meter circles at A and C


Dressage arena diagrams

Dressage arena "map"

Circle points

20 meter circles

15 meter circles

10 meter circles


Corners and half-circles

Okay, so just how accurate do I have to be?