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Exercises

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 linked to the file REF 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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Test you ability to stay in the position of the middle

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The rider can only stay in control of his position, no matter the situation, by learning to control his mind. This is the goal of the exercise in this session. A very easy to set-up exercise proven to be effective in getting the horse and rider to stay alert mentally and physically for whatever situation that could arise.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

The rider can only stay in control of his position, no matter the situation, by learning to control his mind. This is the goal of the exercise in this session. A very easy to set-up exercise proven to be effective in getting the horse and rider to stay alert mentally and physically for whatever situation that could arise.

When a rider needs to slow down or speed up, turn, or approach a jump, he tends to change his position: he leans to the left to turn left, moves the shoulders forward to anticipate a jump, pushes his seat back to speed up….However, all those changes in the position are working against the correct rider’s seat and horse’s movements. It is a real handicap as the rider gets into a position where he cannot ready himself for the next step in an effective manner. This kind of situation will lead the rider to take inappropriate actions in order to make the situation better. These changes will lead the horse to a lack of understanding and some physical disruption.
As Michel likes to remind us: “If you are ready for a movement, you should also be ready for the opposite: going to the right or to the left, going faster or slower…” The rider has to be aware that the horse is the one who executes the movement and not the other way around. Hence the convenience of staying centred in the position of reference whatever the movement to execute.

One more time, the rider will only be able to control his position no matter what happens by learning how to control his mind.

This is what Michel explores in this exercise which is not only easy to set up, but also proven to be really effective in getting the rider to stay available mentally and physically and ready for everything.

Progress: 

Sélène is showing us how to practise this exercise. She rides Amore an 8 YO gelding. We can notice that when the rider is in a neutral mind-set, her position allows her to do everything: turn to the right or to the left, stop, or go jump….with very little influence on her horse who is available and responsive.

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Breathing and relaxation in the action

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We’ve learned that a good oxygenation of the body is a key player in the muscle and mind relaxation. However, to learn to breathe correctly when riding requires some practice. This is today’s focus of this new exercise from Michel.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Débutant
Goal: 


We’ve learned that a good oxygenation of the body is a key player in the muscle and mind relaxation. However, to learn to breathe correctly when riding requires some practice. This is today’s focus of this new exercise from Michel.

To breathe deeply and steadily when we are comfortably seated in a sofa is no problem. However, when we are challenged by something more physical, the breathing rhythm becomes shallow and spasmodic with some apnea moments. By simply watching how many riders are out of breath at the end of a jumping course, we can realize how difficult it is to breathe correctly while performing a physical activity. However, the correct oxygenation of our body is critical if we want to optimize our physical and mental abilities. As soon as a rider blocks his breathing, his body stiffens, his stress level increases, and he loses the ability to control the situation.
As Michel shows us, the horse is also very receptive to the positive or negative signals that the rider’s breathing emits.

So it is crucial for the rider to become aware of his breathing and to practise breathing correctly in all circumstances. Michel offers you a small practise session on a ground pole set-up. Don’t hesitate to modify the track and then, to replace the ground poles by some cavalettis then jumps, but make sure you stay in perfect control of the rhythm of your inhales and exhales.

This exercise is shown on the sheet M4 of the Training program 1

 

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Rider’s effectiveness in a 3 point position and a forward seat

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This exercise is a good test to know if the rider is equally effective whatever her position: seated or forward seat. The goal is to get the horse to keep the same canter rhythm and the same pushing power, especially in the turns as horses have a tendency to decrease their impulsion in the turns.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Débutant
Goal: 

This exercise is a good test to know if the rider is equally effective whatever her position: seated or forward seat. The goal is to get the horse to keep the same canter rhythm and the same pushing power, especially in the turns as horses have a tendency to decrease their impulsion in the turns.

We explained in the previous lessons how important it is to allow the horse to move freely especially in his back. As a result, it is best to be in a jumping position to allow the free flow of energy along the top line and to encourage the horse to engage his hind legs. The better the horse’s pushing power, especially in the turns, the easier it is for the rider to slow down, speed up, or modify the length of the stride to approach the fence in good form.
In general, when riding in a seated position, riders may have the feeling of being stronger, more secure and that their aids are more effective. However, to seat heavily in the saddle, pushing down on the back of the horse, works against the forward movement.
Rider should be able to ride and remain as effective in a 3-point position as they are in a 2 point position. To switch from one position to the other one, should not generate any stiffness or blockage, as it will have a negative impact on the pushing power and balance of the horse, as well as on the rider’s ability to stay on a precise track. The more fluid and light the rider is in his movements, the steadier the horse will be in his canter….This is today’s focus.

This exercise refers to the sheet H9 of the Training 1 program.

Progress: 

Lucile rides her mare Vanille to demonstrate the exercise. As she starts the exercise, she realises that it is more challenging than expected. Vanille is not a very reactive mare and to turn short makes her lose the impulsion which causes her to break into a trot. The goal will be to keep the same rhythm over the entire track, especially before, over and after the flexi jump ground poles.

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Improve your balance and your upper body relaxation when riding

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Michel offers a specific exercise that is extremely effective to release any tensions the rider might have especially in the arms and shoulders. We all know how bad the rider’s upper body stiffness can impact the horse’s mouth and consequently the comprehension of the aids. Michel offers an easy solution to correct this bad habit and provides good reflexes...

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

Michel offers a specific exercise that is extremely effective to release any tensions the rider might have especially in the arms and shoulders. We all know how bad the rider’s upper body stiffness can impact the horse’s mouth and consequently the comprehension of the aids. Michel offers an easy solution to correct this bad habit and provides good reflexes suitable for all level of riders. This training will also help the rider stay centred even when turning.  The horse can move with more freedom and consequently give more attention to the rider’s aids. Directing a horse with precision becomes then, extremely easy whatever the gait.

This exercise is shown on the sheet H6 of the Training program 1

Progress: 

Michel shows us the exercise, riding an 11 year old grey mare. After explaining the advantage of his method, Michel goes over an “easy to do” set-up of ground poles and cones.  To begin with, you can replace the ground poles with some cones to go through or around. The exercise is to be done at the lower gaits first and then if successful on it, at a canter. Once you have well mastered the exercise, don’t hesitate to modify the track. You can also practise it on a small course of cavalettis keeping in mind that the upper body relaxation is key.

Variant / Progression: 

Michel shows us the exercise, riding an 11 year old grey mare. After explaining the advantage of his method, Michel goes over an “easy to do” set-up of ground poles and cones.  To begin with, you can replace the ground poles with some cones to go through or around. The exercise is to be done at the lower gaits first and then if successful on it, at a canter. Once you have well mastered the exercise, don’t hesitate to modify the track. You can also practise it on a small course of cavalettis keeping in mind that the upper body relaxation is key.

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Learn how to control your mind when approaching a fence

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The primary goal of this session is to get the rider and horse to reach a state of serenity. Michel has developed an exercise helping riders to become aware of the moment they lose control of their mind and of their actions approaching a fence.

Niveau de difficulté: 
Intermédiaire
Goal: 

It is well known that the closer the rider is from the fence, the more the emotions or interfering thoughts are taking over which disturbs not only the rider’s position but consequently the horse’s mind and the quality of his canter.

The primary goal of this session is to get the rider and horse to reach a state of serenity. Michel has developed an exercise helping riders to become aware of the moment they lose control of their mind and of their actions approaching a fence.

This exercise is shown on the sheet M6 of the Training program 1

Progress: 

For this new lesson, Michel teaches Charlotte who rides Bounty, a quite inexperienced 5 Year Old mare.

The exercise begins with riding in between the fences preparing for all the key elements that will lead to a successful jump: a rider in control of her mind and her horse’s mind, well seated with a steady canter and a straight mare.

Michel’s professional eye detects any interfering movement from the rider and its influence on the horse. We can see that a good landing is the results of a good approach. Therefore, the rider has to plan each phase of the jump constantly.

We will also notice how sensitive a horse is to the slightest disturbance of the rider’s mind. During this session, Charlotte will have to face a situation leading her to become confused. Her hesitation will impact the mare’s behaviour who will take the control over and decide for her rider.

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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.

This exercise is shown on the sheet G7 of the Training program 1

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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