We’ve had some great rides lately so I thought I’d better do some updates! We’ve also finally got out to the jumping yard to get flying… some pictures just for fun!

Ride 1

We started with a light warm-up and some bending to loosen up and stretch Baxters neck muscles and body. On a loose rein we walked and trotted ‘zig-zagging’ smoothly around the arena starting and stopping by relaxing my seat to move forward and tightening my seat to change down a gait. By focusing on using my seat aids I was able to assess how much Baxter was listening to me and moving forward.

I then started to collect Baxter, establishing some contact with his mouth by firstly, asking with my seat and legs to move forward then ‘catching’ his energy through the bridle with my hands. My hands were supple and caught Baxters energy by holding my hands steadily but firmly until Baxter relaxed and rounded his neck and back. His relaxed reaction was rewarded by reducing my contact with Baxters mouth. This sequence of actions; leg, seat and hands, takes about 3 seconds and for those learning, is called a half halt.

Taking it easy, the ride was mainly to assess Baxter and see how his tendon was going. After 6 weeks of holidays for Baxter, he was moving well with no sign of pain in his legs.

Ride 2 and 3

A general basic flatwork routine has evolved for my training with Baxter. This does not include more progressive lateral work exercises and any other movements that I am in early stages of training (such as walk to canter or counter flexion).

Here it is, hopefully there are some ideas for your own riding routine:

1. Warm up – Walking and trotting on a loose rein, bending, one rein stops, test leg and seat aids.

If working well proceed to step 2. If not, the following might help:

  • Allow time to relax, get the horse concentrating.
  • If there is resistance to ‘one rein stops’ or stiffness then there may be a bit issue, re-mouthing might be needed or in the case of plain old stiffness then LOTS of stretching is needed (it may take weeks to obtain your desired flexibility in your horse).
  • If the horse is not responding to leg aids focus on legs and keep testing and re-testing at stronger intervals until a response is obtained then, start over and praise when a response is obtained from a light aid.
  • If the horse is not responding to the seat aid focus on the seat and keep testing and re-testing at stronger intervals until a response is obtained then, start over and praise when a response is obtained from a light aid.

2. Starting work – Gently start working into the bridle by establishing contact. More leg than hands… don’t force it!!

3. Walk – practice long and low work and bring back into the bridle contact. Leg yielding from 20m circle to 10m circles on both reins.

4. Trot – practice long and low work and bring back into the bridle contact. Leg yielding from 20m circle to 10m circles on both reins. Ride ‘large’ around the arena, serpentines and changing reins.

5. Canter – Practice trot/canter transitions maintaining even contact into the bridle. Ride 20m circles and large around the arena changing reins within the canter. Controlling my balance as we go and maintaining consistent weight on my inside foot when riding circles.

6. Gaits within Gaits – Practice slowing down gaits and extension of gaits. All done at walk, trot and canter.

7. Cool down – Long and low trotting and cantering. Leg yielding through the centre of the arena. Finally, a large relaxed walk where ever I want to go!

Ride 4

Getting some air!!!



A fun ride to break up some of the monotony of training in the dressage arena. I think the snaps pretty well cover it!