This flatwork exercise is designed to improve your balance as well as encourage calmness on the horse. On a circle track, begin cantering for five full strides. After five strides, shift your horse into a walk for an additional five strides. Return back to the canter, repeating this pattern for five full circuits on each one of your reins before completing the exercise. In addition to balance, this exercise will improve your horses ability to follow direction.
Flatwork is an essential element of competitive horseback riding, referring to the portion of the ride that takes place on a flat and even surface. During a normal equestrian event, horses will have to perform a series of jumps. In between and around these jumps are flat portions of ground where additional tricks and movements will be executed. Flatwork exercises will help improve your riding on these portions of the course.
If your horse's reaction time and forward motion is lacking, it is important to perform a flatwork exercise that will help you instigate a walk. To start, begin in a working trot, nudging the horse with both legs to transition it into a lengthened trot. While it is easier to move your horse into a higher gear while it is already in motion, you want it to learn that pressure from both of your legs will result in additional motion. As you improve, you can eventually get your horse to move from a static position into a walk each time you tap it.
Incorporating traditional flatwork exercises for developing suppleness, such as serpentines, circles, and leg-yield, into your jumping sessions will improve the flexibility and strength of your horse and help him use his body more effectively over fences. Following are three of Liz’s favourite suppleness exercises for jumping horses; as you school these exercises, you should feel the horse become lighter in your hand, more elastic in the body, and more balanced in the carriage.