A Winter Exercise Staple, Trot N Rock

Finally getting back into the swing of normal again, making a riding schedule and trying to stick to it has now become quite the challenge, I forgot how much I hated the winter. Trying to get on top of our exercises has also been something I have really missed.

This exercise, Trot N Rock was one I done quite a bit through summer months, or during the first lockdown shall I say, it was a great transition exercise as well as one that kept Dante’s mind very busy and occupied.

I always find it hard to plan and think of things to be doing exercise wise in the arena, without a plan in my head of what I need to be doing each day, I often find myself drifting in and out of plans. Creating these short effective exercises certainly helps, it also keeps my riding quick but effective, and well what more could you want now that the winter months are creeping in amongst us.

Keep scrolling for my Trot N Rock exercise, it is definitely one to start with so many benefits not too mention how quick and easy it is to set up.


The Setup

Well, for this exercise all you need for your set up is 3 trot poles, of course an arena or a quiet field would also come in handy. Quite simple. The distance between your poles can depend, for a pony 4 heel to toe footsteps, for a horse I tend to do 4 and a half heel to toe footsteps. Check out the vid below!

Your arena doesn’t need to be fully clear, but I would recommend clearing at least the half of the arena you are using. See below as to where your set up should be done and what it should look like before you start.

The Benefits

  • Helps improve Balance, Suppleness, Rhythm
  • Helps develop hind end muscles and horses core
  • Helps to develop horses eye, and improves his co-ordination
  • Helps keep your horses brain busy, less anticipation of the work he thinks he’s doing
  • Teaches your horse collection

How To Ride This Exercise

Step 1 – Do I need to tell you what step one is, or have you been living under a rock? The warm up is as critical as the exercise itself! No warm up, especially in the winter time will leave you with an accident prone and stiff horse… so be sure to get your 15 minute walk trot and canter in before you “jump” into any of our exercises.

Step 2 – This exercise is so much easier to explain, I feel like I have already made a balls of the images! Start first by picking up your trot, you are looking for a nice rhythm not too fast, once you find it start by going over your trot poles. Do this a few times and be sure to change your rein often. Don’t leave it too easy so that your horse can anticipate the left and right turns. Focus on your turns before and after your poles also, aim for the centre and focus on staying straight through out the 3 poles

Step 3 – Once you are riding smoothly over the poles in trot, adding an element of canter to this exercise is what we shall be doing next, and no you don’t need to adjust them to canter poles. Your poles are placed down the centre of the centre or half way up even, when you are comfortable to progress to your canter, the aim is to canter 3 loops around each trot pole that you have placed down as per the image below. I would recommend practicing this a few times before we piece everything together. Dante looked at the poles strangely when he had to go through them opposed to going over them, you will be surprised on the strange things out horses look at!

Step 4 – You are looking for an active forward canter, your can begin with large circles, starting near the centre of the arena, progressing to the small circle, or you can go the opposite. Whatever suits your horse. Balance and rhythm is something you need to keep focus on, Sitting up straight holding a contact and riding from the leg will all benefit you in keeping the above smooth. Once you have mastered this, it is time to piece all of our above steps together.

Step 5 – Lets piece everything together, starting in trot and finishing in trot. BAM, I surprised you with a twist there! Pick up your forward active trot like in step 2 above, begin by coming over your trot poles in the center of the arena a loop on each rein. As you come over your poles the second time track left, you are now picking up canter in your next nearest corner. Now you are piecing in Step 3 and adding in your canter loops. Continuing until you have your 3 loops around your poles, using the same corner you picked up canter as a marker to transition back down to trot. Keep your forward trot when transitioning down, as you need to finish off by coming over your trot poles one last time and tracking right. In your next corner transition down to walk or straight to halt. Whichever your prefer and Viola, The Trot N Rock exercise is complete!


And there we have it folks, I have always wanted to say that in a room full of people… don’t even ask why! This exercise is so simple yet it has so many benefits that I am sure we can all gain from. You might only do it once and finish there, but you hit all the nails on the head and even manage to get two rein changes in at that too. It is also an exercise that gives you a sense of accomplishment when you finish your ride. I don’t know about you but motivating myself to ride in the winter can be a tough one. The cold is not my friend especially when you have to walk up and down the yard in the dark not to mention having to keep turning on and off lights..

Anyways I want you guys to give this exercise a go, it’s one I will be bringing back into my winter routine that’s for sure. We also love seeing you guys doing our exercises, be sure to tag us in any of your videos if you add it to your winter riding schedules!

Be on the look out for more pole workouts coming your way, it’s going to be a winter pole fiasco, I can just feel it in my bones! Pole work, gives you goal work…

Speak Soon,

Darielle

Exercise 3 – Grid Lock ft. Jump Start Showjumps

I am loving doing these exercises, the reaction is just amazing! I am trying to out do myself each time thinking up bigger, better & more exciting schooling exercises for you all.

I have seen a good bit of conversation lately on Grid Work, with that I decided to put together a simple yet effective exercise for you all to try out, one suitable for the experienced or beginner ride, it also comes with a string of benefits too for horse & rider.

We have a special addition to our exercise post this week let me introduce you to Jump Start Showjumps who have kindly gifted us 3 sets of their fabulous new Pole Raisers. I have incorporated them into the Grid Lock exercise, to show you how useful & amazing they are in your everyday training.

Keep scrolling to find out more!

The Set Up

For your set up, your arena does not need to be completely free. If you wish for your horse to be less distracted you can of course set your arena up with just the grid.

Your “Grid” will be set up across the diagonal of your arena. See the image below. You will need 3 sets of your Jump Start Showjump Pole Raisers, and 6 poles. If you dont have your Pole Raisers, you can use blocks yo raise your poles or you can alternatively use wings in their place.

The Distance between your first two raised poles is 10 footsteps. I also stacked two sets of Pole Raisers to raise the second pole a little higher. The distance then to your jump is one stride. To walk this out you will need 8 large footsteps. (This may need to be adjusted for pony strides!)

I also put a placing pole after the jump. This helped Dante with holding himself together a bit better after he landed. I walked out 14 footsteps for this, he has a big stride or 4 large footsteps. This can be adjusted as you jump your grid.

The Benefits of This Exercise

  • Improves your accuracy
  • Improves yours & your horses Rhythm
  • Improves riders confidence with jumping
  • Gives the rider time to put more focus on their position
  • Helps with Straightness

How To Ride This Exercise

As always, I advise that you do a good warm up with your horse prior to partaking in any of our exercises. For this exercise it was all about a consistant rhythm in the canter, whilst creating an active forward canter focusing on getting his hindend underneath him to create that energy I will need before I started on my grid. Once you are happy with how your horse is feeling follow the steps below to get the most out of our “Grid Lock” exercise.

Step 1: Start your grid by doing it in sections. Starting easy & building yourself up to the final hurrah! See the image to the right. Your first task is your two canter poles with one stride into your ground pole. Remember before you approach your grid get a consistant canter if you have to circle a few times, that is ok! On your approach remember that they are raised ground poles, a jumping position is not required. It is up to your horse to get over the poles, you are there to guide them! Remember to keep your contact consitant throughout, not to drop it once you reach the first pole. (yes that is my bad habit!)

Step 2: As you go through the grid a few times, try to focus on getting your horse to land on the correct lead change as he comes over the last pole. If you are having trouble with this, when you reach your corner as you land bring your horse to trot & then straight away ask them for canter on the correct lead. Once you are happy it is time to move on to some proper grid work by adding in some jumps!

Step 3: Leaving your ground poles on your pole raisers adjust your jump up-to a height that you feel comfortable with. Your horse will be used to going down this grid by now, when you ride down your grid again now with a jump being introduced, try to focus on your position in the saddle. Are you sitting up tall between poles, shoulders back? how is your jumping position? Also start to think about your horses straightness through the grid are they are veering to a certain side? Are they struggling to lift their leg over the fence? Well Lets complete this grid by adding in some V poles.

Step 4: The last step is to add in some V poles. I added them in to get Dante lifting his legs properly, and to help improve the shape he makes over a fence. He can be quite lazy at times, V poles make him concentrate that bit more & sharpen up his jumping. They are also great for horses that veer to the left or the right. To set them up simply place them either side of your jump, with the V forming n the middle of the fence as per the image below.

Step 5: Jump your horse down this grid until you are happy with their performance, I tend not to over do it with grids, I also up the height each time I jump down it so that Dante has something different each time. Remember this is a gymnastics exercise for your horse so they will be tired quicker than normal!

If you are having some difficulties with your horse or with their jumping, remember that especially if they are young they are still learning. Their bodies are getting used to all these new muscles & movements so don’t be too hard on yourself or your horse & do try not to over work them. Grid work is a great confidence builder for horses learning to jump or for youngsters. Keep things simple.


About Jump Start Showjumps Pole Raisers

Pole Raisers are a clever, easy to use training tool for you & your horse. They are used to raise ground poles during training session to help improve your horses flatwork. There are a string of benefits that will enhance your horses performance such as helping your your horse understand the placing of their legs, balance, co-ordination & helping them to concentrate during your training sessions. They can be used singularly or you can stack them also for more height if you wish.

The Quality – I can put my hand on my heart & say that the pole raisers certainly stood the test of time , they are 100% weather proof! I am slightly ashamed to say I literally left them out in hail, rain & snow over the weekend and they didn’t disintegrate or soften at all. I found them really easy to carry around the place, they are made from wood so you would expect them to be quite heavy but they are super manageable.

My thoughts on the product – If I had a euro for every time someone in the yard told me they were amazed by this product I would have at least €20 by now! I am super impressed. They are the perfect addition to any pole mad equestrian. They are heavy enough to not move out of place if your horse knocks the pole off likewise their is enough freedom for the pole to be able to roll off when your horse knocks, super important!

The price & purchase information – The value for money is outrageous! for a set of two the cost is €8.50 or if you wish to buy a set of 3 pairs they cost €24. Compared to some plastic items on the market I really couldn’t recommend them more. If you want to place your order get in Contact with John O’Toole by calling 086 7337925 or be sure to drop him a PM on Facebook.


This weeks exercise was one of my favorites yet. Let me know if you give it a go at home or in a lesson by tagging us in your videos, in turn if you have any questions dont hesitate to get in contact! Be sure to also follow Jump Start Showjumps on their Instagram page.

Be sure to head over to our Instagram page to check out Dante tackling this Exercise, He is a superstar!

Until Next Time & if you want to feature in one of our exercises or collaborate be sure to drop us a PM.

Darielle

October Exercise – Coming Full Circle

It has been forever since we have done an exercise post here at No Bucking Way. We have so many new exciting ideas for our exercises & with the addition of Cosmo to the gang we have really had to think hard going back revisiting & reviving our older “young horse” exercises.

Prepare to be excited & keep your eyes peeled for Orla’s first Cosmo exercise next week, but up first we have one all about Dante. As hard as it is to say, this is an exercise for the older slightly more experienced horse. I can’t believe I am referring to Dante as Experienced…. What has the world come to!

Don’t worry though, I like to keep my exercises extremely versatile & adjustable, as you know Dante can pick & choose is moods, she if you have a young horse, an older horse, experience or unexperienced keep scrolling to find out all about riding our “Coming Full Circle” exercise!

Side Note: I rode this exercise on Dante wearing my Reinrite training aid. You may have noticed this on Dante the past few weeks. A full review is coming next week, I have been trialing this aid in almost every aspect of our training!

The Set Up

For this exercise, you will need 5 poles, & 3 x cavalletti’s stands to raise your poles in the centre of your arena. Clear your arena/field as best you can, removing any obstacles except for what is laid out in the image below. This is so you can make use of the entire arena & give you and your horse as much space as you can get!

The space between your canter poles should be 10 footsteps. I adjusted mine to 12 as I wanted to push Dante in his canter a little bit whilst still maintaining control.

The Benefits Of This Exercise

  • Improving your canter rhythm
  • Maintaing a steady canter rhythm
  • Improving your horses suppleness
  • Great for improving your horses balance
  • Improves your eye for a stride

Steps For Riding This Exercise

Step 1:

  • As per any of our NBW exercises, we recommend a good 15/20 minute warm up prior to beginning. For this exercise, In my warm up I focused on riding figures of 8 & serpentines in trot, this got Dante bending & flexing around my leg, as well as making him listen & think to the aids I was asking him to do.
  • As I moved on to my canter, getting a forward moving canter from Dante was most important. I focused on pushing on the long sides of the arena & holding on the shorter sides of the arena. This not only wakes Dante up, but it gives me the active canter that I am looking for prior to beginning any pole work exercise.

Step 2:

  • Once you are happy with your warm up, starting this exercise piece by piece is key to nailing it when you come to putting the entire exercise together.
  • See the image below to the left, start by cantering your 20m circle or 15m circle over your ground pole at A. You are looking for a consistant canter here from your horse, no rushing to the pole, no rushing after the pole. A Smooth consistent canter throughout.
  • Your position in the saddle should not change either, you should not treat the ground pole as anything different than a stride for your horse. Stay riding forward, keeping your contact on the reins with your leg still firmly on to keep your horse moving forward.
  • Once you are happy with your horses performance over the single pole at A, then can you begin to piece in the pole at C at the other end of your arena as per the image above on the right. Again ride both circles the exact same. if your legs are not starting to ache at this point you need more leg!

Tip: When you are riding your circle, look to the centre holding your inside rein out away from your horses neck. Having your inside rein opened out will direct your horse to where he should be travelling but it will also automatically position your shoulders correctly moving in the same direction with your horse.

Step 3:

  • Once you are happy with the way your horse is moving over both poles positioned at A&C in your arena, you can then move on to your raised poles positioned at B in the center of your arena. Raised poles should not differ from your ground pole with how you ride into them. Everything stays exactly the same!
  • See the image below. When you are approaching your raised poles, remember that you are riding them on a circle, keep your leg on, holding out your inside rein directing you horse over the poles. Your horse may find this slighty difficult as he has to travel over the poles on a bend, but still keep that consistant canter that you had over the single ground pole as above.
  • Do not look at the poles on the ground, remember to always look to where you are going! Don’t worry if your horse rushes over these poles or gets excited the first few times. Practice this circle until you are happy with your horses & how he approaches in & out of the raised poles before moving any further.

Step 4:

  • Now that you have completed all the above steps, it is time to complete our ” Coming Full Circle” exercise. Please excuse the dodgy diagram for this one! Who knew circles could get so complicated!
  • See the image below. Like in Step 2, begin by riding over your black circle as per the image, ride this no different that you did at the beginning, as you ride out of the black circle, you are then riding up your arena into your second circle, your red circle in the middle.
  • The trick with approaching your middle circle is to anticipate your space, you can make full use of the centre of your arena on your approach to your raised poles. Remember not to look at your poles, when you approach then, but to look ahead of you in the direction you want your horse to go!
  • Finally after you go over your raised poles, ride your circle out on to track moving up the arena again to your green circle at the end of your arena at C.
  • By this stage I found that my body was getting quite fatigued & my legs were aching! So keep your focus & remember as above to keep your forward consistant canter. Look to where you are going always, never at the pole on the ground!

And there you have it! My step by step guide to riding our “Coming Full Circle” exercise. It is tougher than it looks but it is very rewarding once you finish.

If you wish to adjust this exercise for a more unexperienced horse, you can take out the raised poles at B and replace then with a simple ground pole. Or if you wish to make it more difficult you can place 3 raised canter poles at both A & C in your arena instead of the ground poles!

Like I said, it is a very versatile exercise & can be adjusted to meet anyone’s needs. Be sure to give it a try out over the weekend, it is a great winter exercise & extremely simple to set up!

As always, if you have any questions be sure to drop me a PM and I will get back to you asap, but for now fell free to like share & tag your friends, lets get everyone Coming Full circle with this exercise!

As Always, thank you for reading,

Darielle