27.7.17

Riding exercise of the month: serpentines and figure of 8s

 I tend to have a main exercise that I focus on every month and for the most of July I've been using serpentines and figure of eights with both boys as the first exercise after my warm ups.  I've found that having some sort of a plan/goal before going riding has been really helpful now that I've been riding on my own and I've not had any lessons for a month as everyone is on holiday! 👍🏻 It's been a great way of checking what mood they're in when they come out for work - if the serpentines go well straight away then I know I can ask for a lot more from them than if I struggle to get them on the bit and flexing correctly on tenth attempt! I've included both serpentines and figure of 8s as 'one' exercise because I think they are quite similar and I've alternated between them or then used both of them.
I like to ride these exercises to improve the horse’s flexibility and the horse’s coordination, but also because I find that they improve both of my horses’ lateral mobility/ability. The figure of eights also give a great opportunity to include a trot-walk-trot transition and as we all know transitions get them listening and make them stronger! It's also a fab way to work on my own riding so instead of pulling on the reins to get to walk I know I have to trot soon so my transitions become a lot more forward and round. With Vallu, the figure of eights with canter-trot-canter transitions in the middle have been a life saver for improving our canter to trots because I've learnt to ride them totally differently than before -  dropping the neck down, forward with the legs, stretch down, keeping him round, and forwards to trot 🏇

During the figure of 8 the major thing I realised is that it's incredibly important to focus on straightening the horse as you cross over 'centre line' (the middle bit between the two circles) because straightening during the change of direction prevents the horse from falling into the turn! It made such a difference to have a clear 3-5 steps of just going straight before changing direction, rather than the 2-3 steps I'd been doing beforehand. For the serpentines the key was with having both horses really balanced underneath me and then also making sure that I kept my legs long and relaxed so that I could guide the horse around the arena by using my seat and shifting the weight of my upper body, rather relying too much on the reins!



Do you guys have a certain exercise you use regularly?

12 comments:

  1. I need to be better about planning my rides too -- I like the idea of using these exercises to gauge what mood the horse is in, to tell you what to work on!

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    1. It really helped with Basse, I knew on what days I could push him out of his comfort zone and on what days I just needed to do very basic stuff to keep him happy!

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  2. This is great! These two exercises are awesome for making the horse soft and supple! I do this too little, so I guess I have to do this a little more!

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    1. I'm glad you do this too! It's really effective for making the horses supple 👌🏻

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  3. Nothing better than going back to the basics of a figure 8 exercise. You can work on so many different things with them! And I love your sparkly unicorn shirt :)

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    1. Exactly! And thank you so much. It's my favourite top too, the material is SO lovely!

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  4. Two great exercises that can always be used and incorporated! Good tips!! :)

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  5. Yes - a great reminder of some really effective exercises. I must do the figure of eight with my boy.

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    1. Thank you! I've found that it made a big difference!

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  6. I love that you plan your rides and work on certain exercises monthly. That is so smart! When I ride without a plan I tend to lack motivation and not work as hard. Figure 8's are a lot of fun and I do love to use ground poles because we're working on Delight's timing and foot placement.

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    1. I need to be 'smart' as I don't see a trainer regularly and otherwise I would really struggle with improving my riding. And yes me too, if I don't have a plan before I ride I tend to end up with an meh ride as I haven't really achieved anything! Ground poles and a figure of 8 sounds like a fantastic exercise!

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