Updated: Apr 16, 2020
A is for Arena - or if you like ménage, we all know that riding around in circles can become a bit of a bore and you would much rather be out on an hack or doing something a bit more fun however there are ALOT of exercises you can do and things you can use in the arena to 'spice' things up a bit! .
Here are a few ideas you can use next time that its time for a bit of schooling:
1- Use different objects - See if you can get your hands on some traffic cones or barrels as there are billions of patterns you can make whilst using these such as weaving, doing figures of 8 in walk, trot and canter or use them as markers whilst desensitising you horse - so the next time you come across some road work traffic cones on a hack your horse will go past them like a boss!
2- Music! - Try riding to some music, this can help both of you with relaxation and will help you be more in sync with your horse, try making up your own routine to you favourite music switching it up with different strides and paces.
3- Raised poles- when you have done a few trot poles, try and raise them up at each end so your horse will pick his legs up and push from his hindquarters rather than falling onto the forehand, to do this you can use blocks or even the budget potty to raise one end of each pole at alternate sides, when doing this soften your reins a little to allow your horse to stretch out, you will find this does feel a little bouncy to begin with but it is really good for strengthening and will improve your balance.
4- Loosen your rein - now this is good only if your horse is calm and relaxed and not wired like he/she has decided that they are a racehorse for the day, loosen your rein and see if your horse can maintain the same stride for a few paces.
5- Ride in spirals! - this is not only a great dressage exercise but it can also help your horse to accept the leg, this can be done in both trot or canter (depending how your horse responds), with your outside leg move into an 18 metre circle, then with your inside leg press it back out to a 20 metre circle, be aware that some horses such as those who are young or unbalanced may struggle with tighter circles and fall out, if he/she does fall out take your time and go back to the trot to start again, don't forget to use your circle lines to help you control your speed.
Pole work doesn't have to be boring, take some time and have a look on the big wide web at what exercises or even games you can plan for when you are next in the arena, it is a great way to conquer boredom whilst keeping your horse supple over the winter months when the window of opportunity to hack out is small. - Happy Riding!