Amanda over at The $900 Facebook Pony started a blog hop about her favorite riding exercises and I have been loving reading the comments/responses so far. But ya know, my pony is at big girl school so I have somewhat of a different take on this topic.
Here are some of my favorite riding exercises for improving the RIDER’S strength, balance, etc. They are best practiced on steady horses who will stay in whatever gait without a ton of rushing or needing a ton of leg. While you are doing them just forget about any sort of on the bit or roundness, focus on the exercise at hand for you, making them a good thing to practice on scheduled light work days or just when the pony needs a mental break but you still want to work. All images are brought to you by the google machine.
Riding in balanceThis is something I used to be required to do in lessons ALL THE TIME. And boy did it help my leg stay where it was supposed to both in jumping or dressage saddles. Basically you are just standing straight up in the stirrups. Not two point, think vertical upper body. Sounds super easy right? Ehhhh not so much if you haven’t practiced this before. If you are too far forward, even slightly, you won’t be able to stay standing. Same holds true if you are even a little too far back. But once you find that sweet spot with your lower leg and hip you can just stay there with very little effort. Try this at walk trot and canter and just watch your lower leg get better and better!
One handed windmillAnyone else out there love to lock their elbows and shoulders while collapsing their chest? Just me? Take both reins in one hand and with the free arm make a big circle like a backstroke. As big as possible, kind of in rhythm with whatever gait you are in. I like to do this for a few minutes per side in canter warmup especially, then I start the “real work” with an open chest and non braced shoulders. Level:expert, do the one handed windmill WHILE riding in balance.
This is great for those of us who like to sit heavier on one seatbone. Maybe even some of us sit so crookedly they unkowingly rode with their right stirrup two holes shorter then the left. I have no personal experience in this or whatever. I mean….
Anyways, this one’s pretty self explanatory. Just drop a stirrup and ride on as normal. Switch which foot is in the stirrup and repeat. Since most of us are one sided, it should be pretty clear where your weaknesses are, or if you are ridiculously balanced you won’t feel a difference at all when switching stirrups and I am insanely jealous of you.
Driving reinsDo you grab too much at the mouth or pull a little much with the reins? Time to try riding with driving reins for a bit. If you don’t already know how to hold them like that the rein will feed through the top of your fist and the bight (the loop at the end of the reins) comes out the bottom of your fist near the pinkies. I promise you won’t be able to pull at pony’s face, especially before a jump when you hold the reins like this.
This one is mainly a strengh/brain teaser exercise more than anything else. In the posting trot instead of rise, sit, rise, sit you rise for two beats and sit for two beats. It will help get that lower leg stronger and also make you wildly confused whether or not you sat/rose for the correct amount of time.
So there you have it, a few of my favorite methods of self torture. All in the interest of becoming the best mediocre rider out there.