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Exercises

Test your connexion with your horse

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This exercise is comprehensive and technical, which is among Michel’s favourite exercises.  It teaches the riders to be very meticulous in their position, the track they are on and the control of the speed.  It is a perfect exercise to practise the basics prior to a jumping session.  The goal is to program the horse and rider before jumping.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

This exercise is comprehensive and technical, which is among Michel’s favourite exercises.  It teaches the riders to be very meticulous in their position, the track they are on and the control of the speed.  It is a perfect exercise to practise the basics prior to a jumping session.  The goal is to program the horse and rider before jumping.

The set-up which consists of two ground flexi Jump poles, is really easy to realise and shows no risk for the riders and horses. That said, it will require a lots of focus and some preparation from the rider.  He/ she will have to comply with the requirements of a course, practising the flexions to the right and left, the approaches and landings, a certain number of strides between poles, the straightness, some flying change of leads, increasing and decreasing the speed….all that while keeping a light seat, to offer the freedom of movement to the horse. Quite a program. 

Progress: 

For this session, Michel teaches Charlotte and her mare Rasbury. She starts the exercise at a trot. For less experienced horses and riders, it would be better to start at a walk two or three times. It will allow them to get a feel for the pattern and the requirements of the exercises in a quiet way.
Charlotte will have to resolve some difficulties such as keeping her mare straight between the poles and changing the lead in a spot more suitable for the rest of the course. Little by little she gets better at it, thanks to Michel’s advice.

Don’t hesitate to practise this exercise. It is an excellent way to test the connection with your horse and the quality of your work before going to jump.

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Varying the canter stride length over lines

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Being able to modify the length of the canter strides allows the rider to better assess and deal with the difficulties encountered during jumping courses. That said, the ability to feel and modify the horse stride can be acquired only with the repetition of specific exercises as the one Michel is introducing here.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

 

The rider’s ability to vary the length of stride of the canter is a key element to approach a fence under the right conditions. During competition classes, we all know that the rider has to vary the length of stride of his horse’s canter in various situations: the fence profile, the distance between fences that are set in a straight line or in a turn, or if we need to gain time during a speed challenge class….. Amongst others, this capability to master the length of the canter stride will prevent the rider from enduring his course but instead will enable him/her to act being fully aware of his/her influence and be able to plan ahead all the difficulties he/she may encounter.

Therefore, being aware of the strides length of the horse is crucial for a young rider as well as for an experienced rider who has to make sure his horse is responsive at all time.

The rider has to practise it on flat work first. It is the purpose of today’s lesson. Michel is offering an exercise very simple to set up that will however allow the rider to acquire some valuable reference points.

Progress: 

In this lesson, Michel is teaching Charlotte who rides Rasbury
The exercise consists in modifying the number of strides between two flexy jumps poles on a line either by increasing or decreasing the length of the canter stride. To successfully complete the exercise, the rider should be in a good mental disposition and should be in harmony with the movement of the horse. Charlotte will succeed thanks to Michel’s advice.

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Jumping a course of cavalettis with a definite number of strides

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A fun exercise that will challenge your ability to control the track as well as the speed during a course. It is about getting the correct number of strides on a track with successive loops. The exercise is not as easy as it seems as the rider has to be aware of the horse’s speed while directing his shoulders as if he would be on a train track.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

A fun exercise that will challenge your ability to control the track as well as the speed during a course. It is about getting the correct number of strides on a track with successive loops. The exercise is not as easy as it seems as the rider has to be aware of the horse’s speed while directing his shoulders as if he would be on a train track. The set-up of the exercise doesn’t challenge the integrity of the horse’s body, therefore the rider can repeat the exercise multiple times, looking to perfect it as she goes. At the end, it would be ideal to practise the exercise successfully with light aids, meaning with very little hand and leg actions.
This is a really educational exercise for both the horse and the rider who has to anticipate and plan for each part of the course. So, it provides a real mental and physical preparation to competitions free of risk for the horse and the rider.

Progress: 

Marine practices the exercise with Vivaldi, a 10 year old Stallion owned by the Haras de Hus.The first few trials have revealed that it is crucial to stay in the “position of the middle”, meaning being perfectly centred in the saddle to stay on the track and jump in the centre of the fences. The benefits of the  position of the middle is to be ready for everything: to go jump or to stop or to slow down or to speed up….Too often riders are riding only in one position which is the “Position to Jump”. It leads most often to some problems in controlling the horse during the entire course. The first few fences are usually well executed but little by little the horse takes over as he becomes stronger and increases the length of jumps as he goes. This exercise Michel is showing here, is an excellent way to learn how fix this kind of issues staying calm and in good spirit.
 

 

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Improving your horse’s responsiveness and speed in his jumping movement

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This exercise is specifically designed to improve the horse’s responsiveness and style over grids, especially after a large fence such as a water jump or an oxer (…)

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

This exercise will teach the horse to lift his knees and shoulders faster to jump better. This exercise is designed to improve the horse’s responsiveness and style over grids especially after a larger fence type such as a water jump or an oxer which prompts the horse to get flat and rush. The rider has to let the horse take the responsibility of finding the solution to jump in the best conditions.

Progress: 

Michel shows us the exercise riding Undiams, an 8 year old gelding who is really willing to jump but who also has a tendency to rush fences.

The idea is that the rider should interfere with the horse as little as possible to let him find the solution. On the way-in to the grid, the rider has to move his hands forward during the take-off stride and keep his horse on a straight line while following the movement over fences. Under no circumstances, should the rider use his legs and hands aids like most riders are used to do, thinking it will help the horse. On the contrary, the horse needs his complete freedom of movement to learn to settle over combinations, pick-up his shoulders, use his back over fences and yet improve his front end speed of reaction.

 rides in the grass paddock with log fences. You can also practise it with some show jumping fences. The bank can be replaced by an oxer, a water jump or even a Liverpool….The height of fences should be adapted to the level of the horse and rider.

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Exercise to transition between flat work and jumping

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The exercise set-up encourages the rider to pay close attention to all the parameters required for a clear round.

Mots clés: 
cavalettis
jumping exercise
flat work
control when jumping
control in the approach
Rhythm of the gait
steadiness of the canter
REF HAE30
Niveau de difficulté: 
Débutant
Goal: 

This exercise will help you overcome the technical difficulties of a course without straining your horse. It can be practised by riders of all levels and will help you gain correct habits: a symmetrical position, a straight horse in the approach and landing, follow a precise track in the turns and on straight lines, get ready and anticipate each action, keep a steady rhythm.

Progress: 

They start the session with some trot work. It is recommended for less experimented riders or horses to pratise it first at a walk. It would allow the horse to discover the set up and not be surprised.

Charlotte doesn’t have any problem performing the exercise as long as she stays mentally concentrated and focused on her position. However, as soon as she glances down, even for a fraction of a second, she loses her focus and position. The response is immediate: the horse gets out of the track, modifies his rhythm or even steps on the flexy jumps. The rider needs to control the situation at any moment in her position but also in her mind.

It will help Charlotte find a good balance between too much control at the canter and a horse who gets above the bit and rushes. The goal is to obtain a steady cadence throughout the exercise especially before and after the flexy-jumps.

Once again, we can notice the importance of anticipating and preparing for each action to be successful throughout the exercise.

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Exercise to improve the quality of the turns

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This exercise is very suitable to improve the turns especially to detect and correct any problem with the horse or rider’s symmetry. Directing correctly the horse on the path is key to success (...)

Mots clés: 
The centred position
Turns
to turn
cavaletti practice
REF HAE43
Niveau de difficulté: 
Débutant
Goal: 

This exercise is very suitable to improve the turns especially to detect and correct any problem with the horse or rider’s symmetry. Directing correctly the horse on the path is key to success. If the rider stays in a centred position (middle position) without interfering with the horse’s balance, he/she’ll be able to turn short and win the few seconds that will make the difference.

This has to first be practised over small jumps like cavalettis as shown in this video with Michel and his student Marine.

Progress: 

This exercise created by Michel doesn’t present any difficulties with regard to the height of the jumps. Therefore, it can be a good transition between some flat work and work over fences. It will allow the repetitions of the exercise without tiring the horse or taking any risk.
 In this session, Marine rides Amanda, a 7 year old German warm blood mare.

While practising the exercise in both directions, Marine gets to find out which of the small imperfections in her position or in the quality of her requests, are influencing the path and quality of jump of her mare. As Michel notices, horses who drift to the right or left, do so because their riders have a tendency to lean toward the direction they want to follow.

Thanks to this cavaletti exercise and to the solutions Michel offers, Marine will be able to master the exercise and to learn to direct her mare on a precise path with a minimum of demands.

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Improving the horse’s strength in the approaches

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In this flat work session, Michel offers an exercise that will improve the horse’s propulsive force in front of fences while staying in control.

Mots clés: 
calm
approaching a jump
in control when jumping
improving the propulsion
REF HAE24
Niveau de difficulté: 
Débutant
Goal: 

It is a known fact that riders modify their attitude as they come closer to an obstacle. The fear takes over, the rider gets stiffer which consequently disrupts the motion of his horse. The quality of the strides that was good just earlier, deteriorates compromising the quality of the jump.
It is crucial that riders improves their mental and physical state approaching obstacles by practicing specific exercises. This is what Michel offers through this ground pole exercise. Organizing the canter will optimize the horse’s strength in front of obstacles. The deal is to get more movement forward afar and then close up the horse, approaching the fence. It is common for riders to do the contrary. They hold the horse afar and then push the horse in the approach which leads the horse to get above the bit and out of control in front of fences.

This training will help horses gain the correct automatism in front of an obstacle, especially responsiveness, calm, and control. It will also benefit the rider who will feel confident with the quality of the horse’s canter and calm in front of an obstacle.

Progress: 

Marine, Michel Robert’s student, will demonstrate the exercise with her mare Tosca. The exercise have to be performed in both directions.
At the beginning, Marine lets her mare get familiar with the set up. As the exercise progresses, Michel requires the rider to increase her level of requirement…to conclude with well performed round.

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Flexing and stretching over a jumping line

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An excellent gymnastic that favours the top line suppleness and the correctness of its motion. This exercise is also a good way to school the horse and rider over liverpools and water-jumps.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

An excellent gymnastic that favours the top line suppleness and the correctness of its motion. This exercise is also a good way to school the horse and rider over liverpools and water-jumps.

Progress: 

This grid encourages the horse to flex and stretch his entire body. The double on the way-in encourages the rider to approach the line with a cadenced canter and sets the correct length of striding prior the water jump. Therefore, the horse is ready to cover the length of the water jumper that is next. The distance between the water-jump and the oxer on the way out reinforce the horse stretching motion.

Michel teaches Alice who spends a few days at the yard for a clinic. During this session, Alice rides Undiams, an eight year old gelding who has been trained for the last few weeks by Michel to reach the top level. Alice has, here, an excellent opportunity to discover new sensations with this horse who she rides for the first time.

Michel has set up a line of jumps that includes a water jump, a combination on the way-in and an oxer on the way-out. The horse has to bring together the quickness of his front legs, the stretching of his top-line over a wide obstacle and the pushing power over a high fence on the way-out. The key elements to be successful on this exercise are relaxation, steadiness of the strides, straightness and the rider’s eyes with a wide angle view.
 This set-up is also a good way to practise water jumps which can be feared by horses and are causing many faults during a course. It is therefore very wise to work this type of obstacle at home without the added stress of the competition.

Undiams has usually a tendency to speed up in combinations. After jumping the line a few times, it appears that the exercise is profitable for his training. The horse is focused and attentive to each single fence and deconstructs each element of the line.

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Guiding the horse’s shoulders on a precise track

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An excellent and fun exercise to help the horse be focused and responsive. This exercise has to be practiced with calm and lightness and is also an excellent way to train for speed courses.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

This creative and fun exercise leads to approaching the fences on a curve and not on a straight line as we usually practise. It is excellent practice for speed challenges. The set-up will encourage the rider to tighten her turns while remaining calm and in control of her horse as well as in control of the track in order to prepare for the rest of the course. This exercise is also very interesting for horses who pick up the game very quickly. The unexpected track encourages horses to pay attention and trust the rider. Bottom line, horses become more responsive and interested in the job.

Progress: 

Michel is teaching Charlotte and her horse Tito, an 8 year old gelding, through this new exercise. The session starts with some recommendations on how to ride this exercise. The rider has to anticipate each part of the track in order to stay as quiet as possible in her aids. This becomes even more crucial as the fences come one after the other very quickly. The rider has to frame her horse keeping her aids light. When the horse works with fewer constraints, he is more inclined not only to understand the exercise but also to enjoy practising. As we like to say over and over, success is linked to the horse’s understanding what we expect from him and his desire to do it well.

Variant / Progression: 

As the rider and horse become accustomed to and at ease with this exercise, the verticals can be changed to oxers. It is also possible to alternate verticals and oxers in this course.

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Training for competition with a course of cavalettis

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An excellent exercise to encourage the rider to rehearse her routine to get ready for a competition. Practising repeatedly exercises that are close to what is encountered during a show, will help the rider to build the right habits regarding the position, the mental behaviour and the ability to anticipate and to meet the objectives…

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

An excellent exercise to encourage the rider to rehearse her routine to get ready for a competition. Practising repeatedly exercises that are close to what is encountered during a show, will help the rider to build the right habits regarding the position, the mental behaviour and the ability to anticipate and to meet the objectives.

Progress: 

In this session, Michel teaches Alice and her mare Quiria. He arranged a cavaletti set-up representing all the questions the rider may encounter on a course: skinny fences, combinations with short distances, tight turns, “scary” looking fences (wall, brush…). This set-up requires the rider to be fully aware and in control of each of her actions to direct the horse with precision. The short distances between fences require the rider to stay in control of the canter rhythm while guiding the shoulders of the horse to jump in the centre of these skinny fences.
 This is another example where the rider has to focus and stay centred on her horse. The slightest loss of concentration or the slightest fault in the rider’s position disturbs the communication with the horse which will make it impossible to stay on the track.

 

Alice completes the exercise successfully thanks to her centred position. The slow motion parts of the video will help you visualise the correct position over each part of the exercise.

 

Variant / Progression: 

Riders who don’t have access to an area large enough to set up this exercise can modify the distances between the fences to make it fit their arena. The important thing is to create these technical difficulties that will not give the rider the possibility to improvise.

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