August Monthly Exercise #4 – Achieving a Rhythm

Well its our final August Monthly exercise and I have to say, I’m kind of sad to see this month end. To finish off, we decided again to ask our followers what they wanted to see and once again jumping won out (I’m starting to see a trend here). So the exercise we went with is a fun one that can, as usual, be ridden just on the flat. Check it out and be sure to let us know if you give it a go yourself.

What is this exercise good for?

  • Maintaining a rhythm 
  • Landing on the correct lead
  • Teaching your horse to listen and wait
  • Developing the rider’s eye for a stride

How to Set it Up?

August-Monthly-Exercise

For this exercise you’ll need 14 poles and 14 wings. I used the letters of the arena to help position each jump. I put the jump in the middle at X, between B and E, and a jump at both A and C. From there you can find your placing for your remaining fences. See the image for reference.

How to Ride It

The best way to ride this exercise is to start from the ground up. Keep everything but the jump at X as poles on the ground to begin with until you and your horse get to grips with the layout.

  1. Starting over the middle jump, ride a circle left to the poles at A and finish off the circle over the middle jump
  2. Next add in the set of poles on the circle after the poles at A so you do all 3 together. 
  3. Finally add in the set of poles after the middle jump. At this point you should be doing a full circle with all four sets poles.
  4. Repeat this process on the other circle.
  5. Once you’re happy with how your horse rides both circles with all fences, raise all the poles to jumps. I definitely recommend keeping them small, no higher than 70cm as, depending on the size of your arena, you could be doing some pretty tight turns.

The most important thing you need to do this exercise well is a good, even rhythm. And what makes this exercise so great is that with the jumps placed as they are, if your horse starts anticipating the circles and getting lazy (which is what happened with Coco), you can mix it up by jumping a combination of different fences off different reins. This makes your horse sit and wait for you to tell them what they’re doing, instead of them trying to guess it.


Speaking for both myself and Darielle, we really enjoyed coming up with some fun new exercises to try out this month and its been great seeing some of our followers giving them a go for themselves. Next month we’ll be back to our normal Monthly Exercise format so be sure to keep an eye out for that!

As always, thanks for reading!

Orla

How Do I Long Rein/Drive My Horse?

As requested by you all,  read below all about how I long rein Dante, or as the majority of the world likes to call it “Driving your horse”.

You may have guessed that I am new to this, so what I have written below is a guide from what I have learned over the last few days, my perspective on how to do it.

I hope you enjoy, and take this as a warning, your arms will be like jelly afterwards! I am just about able to type. And yes incase you notice, the majority of the pictures you are correct I am wearing my pyjamas!! 

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Equipment Needed

2 x Lunge Ropes, a roller, padding under your roller if required, a bridle with a snaffle bit, & a saddle depending on your chosen lunging option & last but not least a lead rope. 

To long rein you horse, you can do it two different ways

Option 1 You can tack your horse up fully, bridle & saddle. Using your two lunge lines,Photo 16-08-2018, 22 56 40 thread them through your stirrups & attach them to the bit on either side.  To keep the stirrups secure,  tie your two stirrups together with a lead rope by threading it around one stirrup, put it under your horses stomach and looping it around the stirrup on the other side securing it with a knot. This stops your stirrups from flapping around or moving back & forward while you are long reining/driving. 

Photo 16-08-2018, 21 21 30Option 2 Just like above, except instead of tacking your horse up fully, put your horses bridle on, and instead of a saddle put your roller on. Using your two lunge lines again thread them through the bottom loop on either side of your roller (halfway between withers & your horses stomach) & attach them to the bit on either side.

Steps For Long Reining/Driving Your Horse

  1. Start of by tacking up with your chosen option as listed above.
  2. Hold the left lunge line in your left hand and your right lunge line in your right, start of by standing at least a horse & a half’s distance behind your horse. (Just incase he kicks!)
  3. As if you were lunging your horse, pick up a light but firm contact on the lunge lines & ask your horse to walk forward by telling them to “walk on” or a command that your horse is used to hearing. 
  4. Feed out the lunge lines as he moves forward still allowing a gentle but firm contact through both lunge lines.
  5. As you get the feel for your horse, don’t be afraid to start turning your horse getting them to bend and flex on both their left & right side. The more they do, the more flexible your horse will become.
  6. After mastering the walk, start to practice walk to Halt transitions. This will also keep your horse from anticipating their work. To do this, give your horse  a voice command he is used to, such as “whoa,”  & gently give a pull on both lunge lines at the same time, apply this pressure to the lines until he comes to a complete stop. Once he does, always make sure to Reward him by releasing the pressure and a voice command of “good boy”
  7. It is cruel to be kind sometimes, so don’t be afraid to give your horse a tap of one of the lines on the bum if they are hesitant to move forward! You want them working themselves not slumming around in a lazy walk.
  8. If you are feeling brave or should I say, if you trust your horse is capable of trotting try asking them to trot using the same technique as if you were asking your horse to walk on, be careful not to pull on their mouths too much as they take off. If you feel like running behind your horse is too much, you can use the lunge lines to circle your horse with you standing in the middle.
  9. Finishing up, direct your horse back to the yard or in my case the archway outside his stable. You should always make your horse stands still without him moving until he is untacked unless you instruct them to move otherwise. This is something that will benefit you massively with small things such as mounting & dismounting. 

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Additional Tips to go by:  

  • If your horse hasn’t done this before, I would recommend that you start with a quick lunge beforehand,  ease them into it. 
  •  Use your inside lunge line to give your horse directions & use the outside lunge line to push him forward
  •  Don’t be afraid to play around with the bit in your hands this will help soften their mouths
  • Keep an eye on your lunge lines, don’t let them drag behind you or loop too low, last thing you want is to trip over.  
  •  Use a snaffle bit ONLY. This exercise is all about softening your horses mouth, anything other than a snaffle will harden them
  •  If you are unsure have someone walk along side you on the ground, even better if it is someone with experience that can guide you through everything.


So there you have it, how you long rein or as most people like to call it drive your horse. It is a great basic exercise that can be done with any horse at any age, it is certainly not just for breakers.

Sometimes bringing your horse back a few steps or going back to basics will help fine tune them that bit more! The good thing about this exercise is that you can do it anywhere you wish, well within reason!

So go get out, walk around your yard, in your arena if you are allowed or out in the field, the benefits are massive, and don’t be to hard on yourself about technique either, always remember that practice makes perfect! I barely done this before and even at that I was helping or watching, so it is like a new learning curve even for myself.

I hope you enjoyed, if you have any tips or tricks you have of your own be sure to share them, I could do with them all! 

 Darielle 

January Monthly Exercise – The Square

This months exercise with Dante has to be one of my favourites, Introducing The Square”. A good while ago Orla tested this exercise out on Coco & it worked a treat, so I thought why not give it a shot and see how Dante takes it. Not only is this exercise extremely easy to set up, but it was so beneficial in helping him start to bend and flex in around my leg, the square” can be used to cover so many simple basic movements.

 

 The Set Up:

 You will need quite simply 4 poles, laid out on the ground in your arena, seen in the pictures below. Make sure that you leave a good bit of space to move in and around your square! Ideally it should be set up in the middle of the arena giving you space to work with.

What Exercises Can be Done:

  • Trot Work
  • Canter Work
  • Transitions
  • Working on Bending & Flexibility
  • Leg Changes
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Trot Work: The Square is great for establishing a great rhythm in your trot, from big / small horses, getting a consistent pace in between the poles is what you should be aiming for. Riding loops and circles, extending them out big & in small which is great for working & building up their top-line muscles. Keeping everything smoothly flowing  and collected is the aim. 

Transitions: Riding the square with transitions almost became a game towards the end! It can be slightly intimidating as bring your horse to a complete stop in the middle of the square can be quite challenging! Bearing in mind you only have a short amount of space to bring your horse down a transition! I find it great when going from trot to halt, the poles are quite a good guideline for your horse, that when you start to work on transitions out of the square they become very precise & clean! 

Canter Work: Getting your horse not to rush over canter poles or even a single canter pole can be a nightmare, It was for me at the beginning trust me! I have found using the square exercise extremely helpful, and it has slowly started to translate up into Dante’s Jumping too! Cantering over the square at a curve & not hitting it straight on worked best for me to begin with, riding 20 meter circles through the square. Not only did it begin to calm his canter down, but it helped shorten his massive long stride! 

Leg Changes: Continuing on from your canter work, using your square as a starter for teaching your horse leg changes is fantastic! Third time in & Dante had it down to a tee, the aim is to give your aids in the middle of the square, with the poles on either side helping them as they have to jump in and out of them.

Bending & Flexability: I wont give much of a description here, as all the above exercises include bending & circling you horse which in turn will help with your horses flexability. 

See the 4 Diagrams below for exercises to try out! 

 

To make this exercise a little harder,  if you have seen from my attached photo’s, you will have noticed that I have added in a second square next to the original for the likes of transitions so he can’t anticipate the exercises, you can add in as many as you wish, I have started to use them for bounces also, he is a lot calmer on his approach to the poles now, Dante used to get overly excited when he seen a pole, from doing his canter poles diagonally, he has learned that rushing them isn’t what he needs to do! 

Turning the flat square into four jumps is another option, it can be a great introduction to jumping your horse through big grids with a lot of bounces, also great for getting your horse to lift his legs & for working on that hind muscle. All of these exercises are great for control & will definitely let you know where you are at when it comes to working together with your horse as a team! 

Be sure to try some of these exercises out & do tag us your Instagram videos if you give The Square” a go, I would love to see how you get on & how your horse tackles it! 

 

In the meantime if you have any suggestions on what you would like Orla & Coco to cover on next months exercise, do let us know! 

Until Next Time, 

Darielle