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Exercises

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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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.

This exercise is shown on the sheet M5 of the Training program 1

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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