Seven’s hittin’ the gym(nastics, mostly)

M 227

SuperSeven’s been traded out with Manny at the barn, to help him get back into shape with more regular riding. He’s been off for almost 2 years, occasionally picking up a small show here and there in the 0.9m classes. But, since Manny is being a bit of a turd this year, Sevvie might be drafted to go to Spruce in the 1.00m in two weeks! So he’s going to need a bit of cardio bootcamp before we head down and play with the world’s greatest. I’ve been riding him nearly every day since he went to the barn last Wednesday, mostly doing flatwork and gymnastic work.


His flatwork routine consists of the following:

Exercise 1: 2 laps around the arena at the trot, change direction across diagonal, 2 laps around arena, change direction across diagonal, repeated 4 times, then 2-3 minutes of walk (about 7 minutes of trot total)

This is just straight cardio work! Obviously we work on things like bend and self-carriage through the corners, but the main goal here is to just get moving.

Exercise 2: 4 full serpentines up and down the arena (i.e. if you start at A, you finish at A and count that as 1 full serpentine), 2-3 minutes walk (about 5 minutes of trot total)

Bending, balancing, and self-carriage all lumped into one exercise. He’s already a bit tired from Exercise 1, so this really makes him have to carry himself and use his muscles well.

Exercise 3: 2 laps of our very best bouncy, going-somewhere canter, change direction across diagonal through trot, 2 laps of canter other direction, repeated 2 times, then 2-3 minutes of walk (about 5 minutes of canter work)

When Seven is tired at the canter, he does one of two things: a) dumps himself on the forehand with all 1600lbs of his body weight or b) doesn’t want to canter at all. So getting 2 laps of solid, bouncy, moving-forward canter is easier said than done!

Long walk to cool out

I did each exercise twice, with a break in between. In total, it’s about a 40 minute workout session that increases his heart rate, and lets it come down before increasing it again.

One important aspect of this routine is carry a dressage whip! I don’t want to have to grind him or kick him with the spur every step. As much as I would love to have crazy beast mode thighs from overworking my leg, I also don’t want a pony with spur marks. A tiny tap with the dressage whip on the butt gets him to sit up, sit back and get moving, without me having to nag him every step.


Seven post-flatwork

Gymnastic work

Now onto what you’ve all be waiting for, the gymnastics! I find bounces to be a great cardio workout for horses, plus it helps clean up their jumping technique! Here’s a recent gymnastic pattern we did:


As noted in the diagram, the line is a one stride, 3 bounces, out to a one stride. I used 21′ one strides because the jumps were quite low, and it was coming into/out of a bounce. I also set an oxer and two diagonals, the diagonals are approximately 36′ away from the oxer to allow for good rollback turns.

Besides just down the line, here are some of the patterns we did:

Basic intro course

Basic Intro Course

Rollback course 1

Rollback Course 1

Rollback course 2

Rollback Course 2

Rollback courses 1 and 2 can be combined into one longer course.

Rollback course 3 (added difficulty!)

Rollback Course 3 (added difficulty!)

Precision riding course

Precision Riding Course

The final course really tests precision riding and jumping on an angle, because it is a very long, only slightly bent bending line where the cavaletti prevent you from getting a more direct approach.

Here’s some GoPro video showing a quick serpentine warmup, Seven bouncing down the line, and Rollback Course 2.

Let me know what you guys think!

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