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Exercises

Harmony and confidence approaching fences

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Being able to master and control your mind and thoughts in front of a fence is the goal of this exercise. To learn how to use your eyes during all the phases of a jump, is the fastest and most effective way to stay in the present moment physically and mentally...

Niveau de difficulté: 
Débutant
Goal: 

The control of our mind when approaching a jump is one of the biggest challenge for most jumpers. We know how much the control of the mind influences the physical behaviour of the rider which in turn, influences the behaviour of the horse. How well the horse jumps is not just a technicality. Any riders, even the best of the best, experience it on a regular basis. When the mind is not present, the body won’t follow….nor will the horse’s body. The off-topic thoughts such as doubt, worrisome, fear…are the spiral event to failure: a fault, a refusal, a fall.

Any rider should be able to set a training plan to renew with confidence and therefore be able to use fully the technical knowledge. It’s one of the fundamental of Michel Robert’s training method. If you’ve been following the “Training” program, you are aware of the fundamental of the ideal position; the one that will allow your body to work and act in relaxation while being in synchrony with your horse’s movements. This harmony that you’re able to reach when working on the flat, needs to be maintained when jumping. In this video, we are discovering how to reach it, with a very simple exercise that will, nonetheless, require you to be self-disciplined with a great determination.

Being able to master and control your mind and thoughts in front of a fence is the goal of this exercise. To learn how to use your eyes during all the phases of a jump, is the fastest and most effective way to stay in the present moment physically and mentally. Of course, it requires a little bit of practice. To look down and stare at the trouble spot such as the base of the fence, is a natural and difficult to get rid of, instinct.

This exercise that seems so simple, can in fact be very challenging for some of us.
Ideally, you would get the help of a ground person who can watch closely your attitude and tell you when your eyes look down. It’s really important as, we riders, aren’t aware of these little glances down which however have a significant negative impact especially when approaching jumps. The simple fact of looking down, will influence negatively the rider’s position, and therefore, his balance and then the motion of the horse….The list of the negative results is quite long. If there absolutely no positive point into looking down, there is on the other hand only benefits from looking up and far…..So why not take advantage of it?

This exercise is linked to the sheet M1 of the booklet Training program 1

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How to increase and decrease the canter stride keeping the energy and suppleness

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This second phase of the exercise consists of practising transitions within the canter, meaning to go from a shorter canter stride to a longer canter stride, and vice versa.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

In the previous exercise, we learned how to transition from one gait to another with a rider able to stay in the rhythm and flow of motion of her horse. To do so, we know how important it is that the rider minds the physical and mental priorities such as planning the track ahead of time and keeping a centred position, to name a few. The previous practice at the slower gaits enabled the rider to develop good reflexes and made her and the horse accustomed to this exercise set-up.
The second phase of the exercise consists of practising transitions within the canter, meaning to go from a shorter canter stride to a longer canter stride, and vice versa. We know that the ability to modify the length of the canter stride is essential to adapt to the requirement of a jumping course. This allows the rider to get a related distance, to increase the length of the stride to gain some time during a jump-off, or even to decrease the stride to gain more pushing power. There is so much to work on quietly at home before heading to a horse show.
For the horse, just the act of stretching, opening and shortening his body like an accordion is an excellent workout to increase the flexibility of his top line.
Once again you will be successful with this exercise only if your aids are as discrete as possible. Behaviours such as getting agitated, pulling or pushing, or even reacting abruptly are to be banned. We are seeking a well-planned and prepared exercise with fluidity in the transition and going over the ground poles.

 

This exercise is linked to the sheet CA4 of the booklet Training program 1

Progress: 

lene performs this exercise with Surf de la Cense. Michel has modified the set-up from the previous exercise to adapt it to this exercise. The Flexy-jumps on the ground are great landmarks to get the rider to stay aware at all times of all the check points.
To Michel, the position and seat movement of the rider Selene, should be taken as a reference for all levels of riders.

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How to control the speed and stay in harmony with the horse’s locomotion

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This comprehensive exercise is excellent to encourage the riders to be disciplined in their position and their capability to follow a precise path, to anticipate their actions, to maintain the movement forward and control the speed.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

This comprehensive exercise is excellent to get riders to be disciplined in their position, their track and to plan ahead of time while following the forward movement yet controlling the speed.  This last point will be the main goal of this first step of the exercise. The ability of the rider to control the speed of the horse while following the horse’s motion is crucial to be successful in most disciplines (jumping course, dressage test…). The main mistake we see, is when riders ask for a transition but then, freeze their request which results in horses who can’t understand them and become defensive:  Getting above the bit, speeding up, refusing, bursting forward, bucking…

The goal of this session is to gain good reflexes resulting in smooth transitions in harmony with the cadence of the horse for each gait.

This exercise is linked to the sheet CA3 of the booklet Training program 1

Progress: 

Michel teaches Sélène who rides Surf de la Cense. The exercise starts with slower gaits to introduce the path to the rider and horse. The idea is to get the rider accustomed to the track and the flow of the movement at a walk and a trot. The set-up with ground poles marks the path with precision.
To follow Michel’s instructions, Selene doesn’t have a choice but to plan mentally and physically each part of the track ahead of time. She needs to stay mentally active while planning for the next move.
After practising a couple of times at a slower gait, Selene practises at a trot and a canter. Michel adjusts the set-up to favour the correct cadence at each gait.
To Michel, Selene’s work is excellent and should be a reference for any rider. The slow motion sequences of the video are very useful to the viewers to get the correct feel for it.

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Training for Leg yielding and Half pass

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This exercise will help you tune up your aids and the connection with your horse. It‘s a good way to practice your suppleness while in motion and to learn to release any stiffness or tension in your body and your mind.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

The priority of this exercise, is the fineness of the aids. The goal is to obtain results with a minimum of hand aid and a horse who comprehends the request correctly.
To get there, it implies that riders are able to stay centred in their position and to use their legs independently from one another. This exercise is about releasing the right side of the rider then the left side and so on…. It will be easy to realise that any stiffness, especially in the shoulders and arms, will jeopardize the success of the exercise. Therefore, being able to use the aids independently is as decisive as being able to use the legs without deteriorating the position.

 The exercise is to be done at the 3 gaits knowing that it is critical to get the horse to understand the exercise and to create good reflexes at the slower gaits. This exercise can be practised at a canter which can also be challenging. It’s important to take the time to do it properly and not hesitate to divide this training over several sessions.

This exercise is linked to the sheet A6 of the Training program 1

Progress: 

To demonstrate the exercise, Michel is teaching Sélène who rides Surf de la Cense. You can notice that to stay on the track with the correct speed, depends on the capability of the rider to stay supple in her body and perfectly centred in her position with some light aids. A slight change in the position such as a too strong of a hand action or the eyes looking down, will disturb the horse. Therefore it will become very difficult to stay on the track with a steady rhythm which are the key elements to be successful in this exercise.

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How to work on preciseness, lightness and pushing power in the turns

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The set-up of this exercise made by Michel is extremely effective in encouraging the rider to stay mentally present and physically active on all the “commanding aids”. The feedback  is immediate and it gives the riders the opportunity to be aware of the quality of their position and actions.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Débutant
Goal: 

This new exercise stands out if you need to improve the steering and thrust of your horse on a precise track. It also gives you an excellent opportunity to work on your position, as well as the discreetness of your aids. It improves your capability to control your mind while the difficulties arise.  Once again, in this video, you will note how much the determination of the rider is a key to ride successfully this exercise.

You will learn how to optimize the pushing power of your horse just by working on his flexion. This work will improve the balance of the horse by distributing his weight on all his feet equally.  However, the exercise will be beneficial only if the rider is able to communicate with light aids and be receptive to the horse’s feedback.

Thus, it is important that you utilise Michel’s advice: doing so encourages the riders to be aware of their position and influence on the horse. The goal is to become precise while implying less constraints to the horse.

This exercise is shown on the sheet A4 of the Training program 1

Progress: 

Today, Michel teaches Lucile and her mare Vanille.
At the slower gaits, the exercise seems really easy for a well-seasoned rider and horse. However, the canter work is a bit more difficult. It reveals the dissymmetry of the horse or rider and the key elements in the rider’s position to improve.

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How to create straightness in the rider and horse. Step 2

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This exercise is a good preliminary work to jumping. It is about being thorough regarding the straightness, the composure, the steadiness of the canter, the precision in the track including in the approach and landing phases of a jump.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

This second step of the exercise increases the level of difficulty as we add some cavalettis on the track. It’s an excellent transition from the flat work to the jumping work. The previous session helped setting the horse and rider’s straightness, calm and steadiness in the canter. The requirements stay the same when approaching or landing a cavalettis. If the rider was not successful in the previous exercise, it is advised to keep practising it on the flat before introducing the cavalettis. Sometimes, just to add some ground poles can be sufficient to disturb the rider’s serenity. If the rider starts looking down, he/she will disturb his/her balance forward. If the rider gets unbalanced, he/she can’t follow the motion of his/her horse. It leads the horse to break his cadence and become less precise in his direction or even to get over the bit. As we have already mentioned, this situation is generated by a rider who is worried.

This exercise from Michel, is an excellent way to keep the rider’s mind focused, serein, and aware of each of his action. Selene starts the exercise at a canter but according to the level the rider and the experience of the horse, it may be necessary to practise first at a trot a few times with some ground poles.

This exercise is linked to sheet T3 of the program Training 1

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How to create straightness in the rider and horse. Step 1

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This exercise is a very effective way to improve the ability of the rider to stay centred and straight in his/her position and to keep the horse perfectly symmetrical with an even support on his 4 feet. The first part of this session is about flat work to get the horse and rider in a good disposition...

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

This exercise is a very effective way to improve the ability of the rider to stay centred and straight in his/her position and to keep the horse perfectly symmetrical with an even support on his 4 feet. The first part of this session is about flat work to get the horse and rider in a good disposition without the complication of dealing with a jump yet.

The simple fact of alternating between turns and straight lines, with some flexi-jump as guiding rails, is indeed difficult for a majority of riders. Most of the time, horses are zigzagging on the straight lines and are losing the impulsion in the turns. This exercise will be successful only if the rider is able to anticipate and get prepared for each part of the path while staying focused on his/her position. Any shift in the rider’s position compared to the median of the horse, can lead to a shift of the horse on the course.
Michel goes through all the key elements to be successful with this exercise in order to obtain a horse in a steady canter with a steady pushing power on a steady track.

This exercise is linked to sheet T2 of the program Training 1

Progress: 

In this session, Michel teaches Selene and her gelding horse “Amor”. She starts the exercise at a trot. Horses and riders, at a lower level, can start the exercise at a walk once or twice. Starting the exercise at a slower gait will help the couple to get used to the pattern and to implement a good automatism without the difficulty of the speed added to it.
As the session goes on, we learn on how important it is to follow the cadence, whatever the gait, in order to keep the horse on track.

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Accuracy of the track and suppleness of the horse – Step 2

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This second part of the exercise is to be done at a canter with a horse well-schooled and responding perfectly to the leg and hand aids. The rider will have to be demanding to be in a perfect control of the 4 feet of the horse.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

his second part of the exercise is quite difficult and can be achieved only if both the rider and horse master it at the walk and the trot. This is the reason why the rider has to take his time to practise the exercise and can practise it over several sessions. To be successful practising the exercise at a canter, the horse needs to be available and the rider needs to anticipate and plan ahead correctly.  The goal is to keep some light and discreet aids. Therefore if the rider has to flail, twist himself, pull or push, or even if he needs to use strength, there is no point in practising this exercise yet. So it is necessary to achieve one step at a time at the lower gaits before trying it at the canter.

This exercise is linked to the sheet A7 of the Training Program 1

Progress: 

Michel recommends to start with the most comfortable side for the horse.  As seen in the first part of the exercise at a walk and trot, the rider has to be active on the right and then his left side staying centred and symmetrical in his position.

Michel offers some modifications of the set-up to make the first few practices easier and to gather some positive results before increasing the level of difficulty.

Michel gives us also an insight on the mind set we are looking for in the horse and the rider to reach the maximum relaxation while keeping the canter rhythm steady.

At the end, you will notice how comprehensive this exercise is. It will take you a certain time to get it, but you will definitively notice the progress you and your horse will make. Practise well!

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Accuracy of the track and suppleness of the horse - Step 1

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An excellent exercise to test the precision and lightness of the rider’s aids while working on the submission and the suppleness of the horse.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

We know that horses and riders are all, more or less, asymmetrical: more supple to the right, stiffer to the left for example. It is important to be aware of it as it can affect the correct execution of a movement such as the accuracy of the track. The rider has to aim for a symmetric position and some symmetric aids to avoid confusing and misusing the horse. This is what Michel’s new exercise is intended for. The set-up is extremely easy but it proves to be very effective to challenge the rider’s ability to keep his horse on a precise track. The goal is to direct the horse with almost no hand aid, but simply with the position and a few discrete leg influence. To successfully execute this exercise, the rider has to be able to plan ahead each phase of this exercise.

This exercise is linked to the sheet A7 of the Training Program 1

Progress: 

In this first part of the exercise, Michel starts at a walk and a trot. The canter work will be in a follow-up video. This same work at a canter requires the horse and rider to master perfectly the exercise at the lower gaits.

Michel emphasizes on the requirement necessary for the rider to stay present mentally and physically at all times. He explains how the rider should use his leg aid to obtain the best result with a minimum of influence on the horse.

The rider will be able to put the advice into action in any situation and it will allow him to direct his horse with lightness.
 
This exercise is also a good suppleness exercise for the horse who will have to work his left side as much as his right side to stay on the track chosen by the rider.
 

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Steadiness of the canter and control of the steering when jumping

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The goal of this exercise is to control the horse’s shoulders and haunches on a grid while staying in the same canter rhythm throughout the set-up. The slight curve of the track makes it a bit more challenging...

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

The goal of this exercise is to control the horse’s shoulders and haunches on a grid while staying in the same canter rhythm throughout the set-up. The slight curve of the track makes it a bit more challenging as any drift towards the inside or outside of the curve will modify the distance between the fences compromising the steadiness of the canter.
The key, to be successful, lies in the rider’s aides which should stay light and discreet and surely not strong and restrictive as many riders would be tented to use.
Michel emphasizes on the importance of keeping the horse bent to the inside to improve the correctness of his motion and the use of his top-line.

This exercise is shown on the sheet OBS6 of the Training program 1

Progress: 

Michel teaches Sélène and her 7 year old horse, Amore. The rider learns that she needs to keep a relaxed position in harmony with the movement of her horse. The slightest tension can disturb her horse’s movements and prevent her from executing the exercise perfectly. The challenge is to give enough freedom to the horse while controlling the steering and the canter rhythm. A challenge that Sélène masters after a few tries. You will be able to get the feel for the ideal position just by watching the slow motion included in the video that you can, then, recreate when you will practise the exercise.

At the beginning, don’t hesitate to practise over ground poles only to set the correct reflexes before raising the bar.

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