Exercise 1 – Flat To The Mat

It has been some time since an exercise has been done here at No Bucking Way. I certainly feel a little rusty especially when it came to planning & thinking out some exciting exercises to set up & try out for you guys.

Don’t you worry though, I have decided to start the year with a lovely flatwork exercise. I struggle sometimes to stay concentrated whilst riding, especially during these dark evenings. I spend most of my time thinking about when I am going to be finished rather than the work I want to focus on with Dante in the arena.

Look no further, I have compiled this lovely exercise for you to try out. Of course as always it comes in sections, so keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know!

The Set Up

For this exercise, you will need 6 poles. See the image below as to how they should be laid out in your arena. If you can, try to keep one side of your arena free so that you have that extra bit of space when it comes to doing certain parts of the exercise.

The distance between the canter poles should be walked out with 10 footsteps between them. This worked well for Dante, but it can also be adjusted to suit your horse or pony by adding in or taking away a footstep.

The Benefits

Sharpens up your transitions

Improves your eye for a stride

Improves your horses balance & suppleness

Improves Flexability

How To Ride This Exercise?

Step 1: As always, we advise that a good warm up is done prior to partaking in any of our exercises. For this exercise I focused a lot on transition work with Dante before we began, also making sure he was moving forward from my leg. As you progress into this exercise you will see that it is all about Transitions in certain parts.

Leg Yielding. Focus on getting 2-3 steps from your horse

Step 2: The Leg Yield. Yes, I said it! I decided to challenge myself as well as you all with this one. I spend the guts of 15 minutes practicing this in walk around the arena on both reins. This really helped to supple & relax Dante before we got into serious business.

If you dont know the aids for leg yielding, see the link below! Dont forget if your horse struggles but manages to get one or two steps always remember to reward your horse! Small wins will give you big wins in the long run.

Steps For riding the perfect Leg Yield

Step 3: Once you have mastered your leg yield, it is then time to start putting some focus on your canter poles. You want your approach to be calm, collected & relaxed. And once you reach pole one you want a smooth canter all the way through until you land after pole 4. Try this a couple of times. Once your happy with how your horse is moving we can then begin to piece everything together.

Piecing your Leg yield & Canter together

Step 4: Lets get Down to business. Now that we have established some key components to our exercise from step 2 & 3, It is finally time to piece everything together. See the image to the left. In this you are putting together your leg yield, your canter & some pole work also.

Remember to sit calm, & really focus on using your legs for your transitions. Begin by leg yielding across the long side of your arena, once you hit the track remember to ride your horse straight & keep them moving forward. Once you reach your corner, in the image where it is marked with the red x, this is your spot for asking your horse up into canter. Continue to canter around your corner and over your single canter pole. This is a 10-15m circle. So sitting up tall as you ride this circle is important, not only to balance yourself, but to keep your horse balanced also.

Step 5: Once you are happy with the above, you are now ready to graduate on to the final & full “Flat to the Mat” exercise. This will incorporate everything, leg yielding, canter poles & your upward transitions. See below an image as to how you should ride it! Remember to sit quiet & remain quiet with your hands over your canter poles. One of my worst habits!

Once you are happy with how your horse is riding this exercise, remember to always leave your horse on a good note.

I found this exercise super productive & really made me focus during my riding sessions. Sometimes when you have a plan in place & pre plan your riding sessions, results really start to show.

Give it a go, & be sure to tag me in any videos you take of you doing this exercise. I unfortunately didn’t get any footage of this one, but I will be sure to take some in future. As for the name of this exercise, dont ask, Thinking of inventive exercise names is a serious down fall of mine!

Keep your eyes peeled, I have a lovely challenging jumping exercise coming up next, not to mention there are loads of poles involved. My favourite!

Until Next Time,

Darielle