Spring Into A Horse Riding Exercise

By Kathy Farrokhzad. Up here in our neck of the woods, the heat is already

searing but thanks to Covid-19, many of us are starting to ride our well-rested equine friends once again. While it might be almost summer in season, our horses may have other plans for us! If you’ve got a rambunctious, hippety-hoppety equine

with a spring in his step, here is a fun and active exercise you can use to allow for movement while also encouraging focus and calm attention.

Spring Time Exercise

The Pattern As you can see below, the pattern is fairly simple.

• Start on the right rein. • Go up center line. • Turn left.

• Left circle at B, 20-meters (or you can make it smaller for more challenge). • Continue to the far corner. • Change directions across the diagonal. At this point, you can continue down center line or

head back to the opposite rail. You can go straight on the rail or add a shoulder-in or haunches-in if you want to add some lateral work. Or you can come off the rail just past A and leg yield to the rail. Once you’ve gone to the right a few times, change di-

rection and go to the left. Start on the B rail and head to center line from there. But there’s more!

The Transitions Try this pattern in walk or trot at first until you have

a good idea where you’re going. Then add transitions. If you like, you can do several walk-trot-walk transitions. Let’s say you do the center line at a walk, trot through the

Pattern 1

Pattern 3 At first, you might want to take your

time through the transitions and help your horse develop a strong, round, flowing gait before the transition. In this case, you might not be too picky about exactly where the transition takes place. This is how I always start my horses and riders - looking for high quality movement and transitions before we get too much into accuracy. Eventually, you might want to be more

precise. You can decide where you want the transition and get it at exactly that letter. This helps you become more of a team with your horse. Remember to not sacrifice the quality of movement though just to get the transitions. At this point, you and your horse should be able to do the transition at the spot and do it well, with a good gait be- fore and a good gait after.

The Point This exercise is designed to do two

Pattern 2

corner and do the circle at trot, and then walk the rest and across the diagonal. You can do trot-walk-trot transitions

the same way. You can add canter into the mix: trot

the center line, walk the turn, trot to canter through the corner and canter circle, canter to trot through the next corner, and walk the diagonal line. You can get creative with the transi-

tions. Keep in mind the needs of your horse as well as yourself. If you need to work in the walk and trot, by all means, do so. Make sure it’s a good, active, ahead-of-the-leg walk and a good trot!

things: give your horse room to move (straight lines and large circle), and require quick response to aids through transitions. Coming out of the winter, it is important to develop a forward-moving, ground cover- ing gait that allows the horse to strengthen again after time off or less consistent riding. However, while you want to encourage movement, you also want to bring your horse’s attention to you and work on re- sponsiveness. What better way than through transitions? I hope you enjoy the exercise. Let me

know how it goes.

Bio: Kathy Farrokhzad is an EC coach and author of the Horse Listening book collec- tion, Goal Setting For The Equestrian: A Personal Workbook, and the creator of the Practice Sessions online program. If you liked what you read here, check out her blog at for many more articles about horses, riding and life in gen- eral.

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