What is the best way to structure your rides? How can you practice the movements and work on exercises in a way that helps your horse learn? I have the magic formula to help you!
In this video, I show you how I work on exercises with every horse I ride, and how I like to set my horse up for success.
Sometimes, it can be hard to know when it’s the right moment to move on to the next exercise and often, we can get stuck drilling the same exercise over and over. It happens to all of us – I’ve done it too! But the thing is, drilling an exercise doesn’t work with horses. If we drill an exercise, it’s hard for them to understand when they’ve done the right thing, and it can lead to frustration for both the horse and rider.
When I school my horses, I find that 3 is the magic number of repetitions for any given exercise. Earlier this summer, I worked with the famous hunter-jumper rider and coach, Archie Cox, and he agrees. Repeating an exercise three times allows you to improve on the exercises without overdoing it.
Here’s a basic outline of how this works:
- The first time you ride and exercise, you introduce to your horse what you would like them to do. This first repetition may not be perfect – take note of your mistakes, your horse’s evasions, etc.
- The second repetition is your chance to improve on the exercise. See if you can ride the exercise a little better and fix a few mistakes that you noticed when you rode it the first time.
- The third time your ride the exercise, you want to try and perfect it. Hopefully by the third time, the exercise will be much improved and your horse will be able to perform it well.
- Reward your horse. Once you have repeated the exercise three times and your horse has done well, reward your horse by giving them a walk break, patting them, and telling them “Good job!”
In my years and years of training hundreds of horses, I often find that 3 is the perfect number of times to repeat an exercise without drilling.
Of course, sometimes you may need to repeat the exercise twice, and sometimes maybe four times. Most importantly, you don’t want to drill the exercise. If your horse does an exercise well, move on to something different or change directions. This is a reward for your horse and a way to let them know that they have done the right thing! If you keep asking the same question over and over again, drilling an exercise, and your horse gives you the right answer, eventually, they will try a different and incorrect answer.
Check out the video where I’m riding Mercurio and demonstrate how the exercise improves with each repetition. I hope this magic formula helps you!
P.S. Did you try this magic formula in your rides this week? Let me know how it went in Amelia’s Dressage Club!