February Exercise #1 – “The Straight & Narrow!”

We just can’t get enough exercises around here!!! With the great success of our January Ultimate Exercise Series, we thought why not try to carry through these exercises over the next few months? They may not be as frequent like our weekly exercises, but we will try our best!

This week or should I say the last two weeks with Dante I have been working on a lot of straightness training. I thought who best to share this exercise with than with you all. It is extremely easy to set up, and once you get it right it is so rewarding!

What Will You Need?

For this exercise, as always you will need an arena, if you don’t have an arena and you use your field, you can use the edge of your field for this set up.

6-8 poles are needed, depending on the length of your arena, when placing your pole, lay it down (from the edge of your arena) one & 1/2 large footsteps in off the track.

See the Image below for the set up!

Your Setup

What This Exercise Is Good For?

  • Straightness
  • Foundations of Leg Yielding
  • Getting your horse to listen

How To Ride This Exercise?

This exercise is really quite straight forward, it in my opinion is a basic foundation for your lateral work. The poles in the side of the arena play a massive support for your horse and work as a great training aid. Follow the 5 easy steps to see some great results, I would recommend doing this every 2nd or 3rd day, as to minimize frustration in your horse if they are struggling to understand your aids. But keep on top of them, keep doing it and the penny will eventually drop!

  • When you are trotting down the long sides of the arena, (were the X’s are marked) the poles are in place to aid your horse with keeping straight. See Image Below
  • You should be aiming to get their head flexing to the inside, with their hind staying straight on the outside track.
  • Apply pressure with your inside leg to straighten your horse’s hind end onto the track. While doing this, encourage your horse to flex it’s heads to the inside using light give and take motions with your inside rein. Your outside rein should be used to support your horse and keep him balanced, so keeping a consistent contact on this rein is vital.This does take some practice! Continue to ask your horse these movements on the long sides of your arena, on the shorter sides keep the contact, ride them forward but give them that short break.
  • Continue to ask your horse these movements on the long sides of your arena, on the shorter sides keep the contact, ride them forward but give them that short break from all the asking.
  • If needed, use a schooling whip as a back up to your leg with light flickers. Make sure to also release the pressure so your horse understands what it is you are asking.
  • And remember to always reward your horse if they do correctly. Be sure to complete this exercise on both reins, You will find one rein is always better than the other!

And there you have it! This exercise I found extremely rewarding for horse & rider. It is a great foundation exercise for any lateral work you do with your horse, Dante can almost leg yield on one rein now, Small achievements!!

I also found Dante to be super responsive to my leg aids afterwards, when I went to push him out on a 20m circle he would shoot across from my leg!

An exercise I would highly recommend!

Until Next Time,

Darielle