Hi everyone, I'm looking for some fun exercises to do in the school. It's not always possible for me to go on hacks and sometimes the school gets a little boring if i'm alone. Any suggestions welcome :) x
Make an obstical course =] In the winter it was pretty icy and we couldn't do much so we decided to make a course. Put poles down, barrels, cones. If you don't have anything like that there are lots of fantastic dressage exercises to do. For example practice working with your horse in a long and low frame.
Also make a riding schedule! Have a 1 or 2 jumping days, hacking day (if you can), dressage day, and whatever else you can think of. It's great, you will always know what to do and work on. Usually you can get exercise books at tack stores which are very helpful.
Exercise Ideas! :::
Turn on haunches
Turn on forehand
AND you can combined these things together! Have fun! =]
Spirals are fun. Start on a 20M circle, spiral into maybe a 7M circle, then spiral out. Work on your position. Am I straight? Are my hips aligned? Is my spine a straight line? Are my hands, legs, and heels still? Are my arms elastic? Also, if you jump. Just do all your work in two point, strenghthening exercises!
What exercises you can do depends on your level of riding and your horses level of training. When I ride, I am constantly changing rein, putting in different sized circles to test my horses balance, asking for transitions without gaits and transitions between gaits. Just keep the horse thinking and busy the whole ride. Dressage isn't about mindless circles and straight lines. Watch any half decent dressage rider/trainer and they will constantly be changing things. Never more than a few strides are the same when generally schooling. Always asking for a little more, a little less, a little flexion, a little neck bend, a little bigger, a little shorter, a little quicker, a little slower, testing balance on a small circle, testing bend on a larger circle, seeing if you can get transitions immediately from an aid. The list is endless. Just use your imagination.
Let's see, my favorite schooling exercises are first, working on different speeds within gaits - a decently schooled horse should have two clear, distinct speeds at the walk, three at the trot and canter.
Then, I like to do a lot of serpentines, varying the number and size of loops. A great exercise is to do a very shallow serpentine and turn the horse with your eye, upper body and postion of your legs, no reins and no active leg aid. An advanced exercise is a zig zag, with 1/4 turns on the haunches to change direction. Very good for refining indirect aids and focusing on straightness.
A deceptively simple exercise is to ride the quarter lines of the arena - good check to see if your horse is truly straight, or tends to fall to one side or another without the arena wall. Once you've got that you can leg yield from the quarter line to the rail, and then from the rail to the quarter line.
Stormy Blue's spiral is a good one as well.
You can also work on halt/back/walk and turns on the forehand to keep your horse's focus, and if your horse is at this level of schooling, shoulder in, shoulder fore, travers and renvers.
If you tend to fall in to the trap of just hacking aimlessly arount the ring, write out a lesson plan appropriate for your level and keep it in your pocket. Always have an alternate, easier version of a planned exercise in mind so if the original plan doesn't go as you wanted, you can fall back on an easier exercise and keep your schooling positive.