- so seeing this improve would definitely be a good indication that the exercises are working
- Have a small jumping session with no napping or refusals
So how was I going to reach my little goals? After doing some research and chatting with a few people, I pulled together a range of different exercises that I could use to build a weekly exercise plan for Coco.
Coco’s Weekly Exercise Plan
Below is the rough exercise plan I’ve been doing with Coco for the last few weeks. A few days get mixed around here and there but generally we get everything done.
I was advised by my physio to get a pessoa to help Coco stretch down and use her back
muscles more effectively. Unfortunately they are a bit expensive so I’ve gone with my next best option – using two lunge lines with a roller. For Coco, I’ve found this to work quite well. She is generally quite a good stretcher on the lunge anyways but using this method seems to encourage her to be much more consistent in her way of going.
By getting her to lower her head, she can stretch out her back and the tight muscles she has behind the saddle while also using her hing end more effectively. It’s a good workout for her that allows her the freedom to move without a rider on her back.
The first ridden day of the week I would generally take it quite easy. I do some light walk, trot and canter with her with the main focus being to encourage her to drop her head and ride quite long and low. When your horse is as buzzy and spooky as Coco can be, this isn’t always very easy to achieve but after a few sessions of this she really got the knack of it and now she seems to really enjoy stretching down (when she’s not looking around at all the horse things going on).
After a day off Coco always needs a little lunge to make sure she’s not too fresh so a quiet lunge to get rid of the excess energy and then it’s straight to work. I now start every session with 15 minutes of long & low work to get her warmed up and stretched out.
Next we move on to caveletti’s, with a focus only on the trot. As her near side is where she needs to build the muscle, I make sure to only elevate the poles on one side. This ensure’s the focus is on the muscles that need the attention. I would set up two sets of poles, 3 on one side with the first and last poles raised and 5 on another side with the second and fourth poles raised.
I would do the above and mix it up every now and again by setting up the poles on a circle or on the diagonal so we can create a bit of a course out of it. This keeps Coco interested and on her toes.
Again we start the session with 15 minutes of long & low work. I would then have a number of trot and canter poles set up around the arena.
The trot poles today would be set up with a longer stride in them to encourage Coco to stretch out. I would then have a series of canter poles set up with a 3 stride related distance to work on lengthening and shortening her stride. Another set of canter poles would be set up with bounce strides. These would be placed on a circle.
To finish up I would put the canter poles up to raised poles. I have two reasons for doing this – the first to obviously engage her hind end and get her really lifting behind but the second and main reason is to slowly introduce the concept of jumping into our work.
After two days of hard work, I like to give Coco a bit of an easier session on a Sunday so I keep it simple to long & low work but incorporate some leg yielding.
Leg yielding is great for making her more supple which helps her to eventually relax her back and start using it more effectively.
One thing that I would love to be able to incorporate into this weekly plan is a hack out to the fields to chill out. Unfortunately Coco isn’t very fond of the track we have in our yard so what should be a nice relaxing ride always ends up in an argument which kind of defeats the purpose of going out there. It’s something I’m planning on tackling this summer but until then, I settle for hacks around the arena or try to get her out of the yard where possible.
Our Progress so Far
I’ve been doing this exercise plan with Coco for the last few weeks and I have started to see small improvements in her way of going. She’s starting to track up much better on her near side and I’ve done very small amounts of jumping with her and each time she’s gotten better and better so it’s all very positive at the moment 🙂
Thanks for reading this far. I hope some may have found this helpful 🙂
PS. Photo credit to Niamh Meighan, check out her Insta account @nyunyirl