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What's your favorite low level exercises?

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  • What's your favorite low level exercises?

    Not really needing anything specific, just looking to expand my repertoire of exercises for all occasions!

    Low level meaning up to 1st level and some 2nd movements. Mostly 1st and below though.

    When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

    Official Secretary of Sass

  • #2
    ALLLLL the leg yields I love leg yields from the CL/QL to the wall, from the wall to the CL/QL, and head to wall leg yields are my favorite for getting the hind legs under. I also really like doing a V shape- come down the CL, leg yield to B or E, then leg yield back out to the CL. Plus you can do things like leg yield the diagonal and take smaller steps, and then bigger steps and then smaller steps and then bigger steps - forward and back within the leg yield.

    Also, haunches out- NOT renvers. Basically you ride the horse fairly straight in the neck with the shoulders slightly in and you push the haunches around the circle. It's leg yielding on a circle

    Forward and back by itself is also a super exercise for all gaits. Do a 20m circle at the canter in a lengthening, then shorten the canter (how quickly can you bring it back? how much can you bring it back? - ways to challenge yourself) and do a 10 meter circle in a collected canter, then push the circle back out to 20 and back to a lengthening. You can really improve the jump in the canter doing this and it gets them sitting on their hind ends.

    Walk-trot-walk transitions and trot-canter-trot transitions are also super helpful.

    I like using the shallow loop at the trot and canter, too.

    MTA: I also like doing a 20m circle in the middle of the ring, with a 10m circle on either end. So tracking right on the 20m circle, when you cross the centerline you do a 10m circle left, then continue back on the 20m circle. This is deceptively hard to do well. You can do it where you maintain one bend the whole time or change the bend each time.


    • #3
      Some that I like:

      *At the trot do a 20 meter circle at C tracking left, continue down the longside, at E do a half 10 meter circle and ride back a diagonal line back to H. Now do a 20 meter circle at C tracking right, continue down the longside, at B do a half 10 meter circle and ride a diagonal line back to M. Repeat as many times as necessary.
      This is a good exercise for horses that tend to get tense or nervous. The repetition calms them down, plus the bending lines and changes of direction get them supple.

      *Trot down the long side, before the short side, halt, do a half TOF (head to the rail) to change directions, trot off. Again, halt before the corner and change directions via TOF.
      This exercise really gets the horse quick off the hind legs. You should feel them start to jump into the trot transitions (it can also be done at the canter for more advanced horses). This exercise does often get horses a bit hotter, just as a head's up.

      *Ride a 20 meter square at the walk. In the corners do either a quarter TOH or a quarter TOF. You can break this up with trot on the sides if need be.

      *Trot or canter poles on a circle (in sort of a fan shape), making sure the horse reaches and bends. You can also spiral in or out to play with length of stride.


      • #4
        A variation on the 20m circle in the center with 10m circle at CL. Canter the 20m circle, trot as you cross CL and begin a 10m circle in opposite direction. As you complete the 10m circle, change bend and pick up canter on the original 20m circle. Not easy if you don't have a responsive horse.


        • #5
          I frequently do the following:
          - 10m figure eights at walk and trot
          - leg yield zig zag down centerline
          - 10m circle at A into shoulder-in down centerline and 10m circle a C
          - canter lengthening down the long side with a 10m circle in the corner at the end
          - bow tie exercise
          - 3 loop serpentine
          - Do 20m circle at E, then 10m circle at E, then go into shoulder-in down the long side


          • #6
            My favorites are my warm up routine, where I focus on an active hind leg, and getting my mare really coming thru her back and neck, and bending/suppleness, as well as sharp to my aids.
            - transitions in the trot, a forward working trot, collect to a small trot without losing the energy, and back to forward working trot. After 3-4 times of transitioning, my mare is revved up and really pushing from behind
            - leg yield in/out on a 20 m circle (spirals) into figure 8s- so leg yield in, then back out on the circle, cross CL, and change direction, leg yield in, leg yield out, cross CL, repeat the figure 8.
            - Leg yield "V"s on the long side as mentioned above.
            - 3 loop serpentine, with intermittent trot/halt/trot transitions on CL. Ride the serpentine at least 2 times from A to C and C to A, before you start asking for halt so your horse is forward and thru, even in the turns and changes of direction, then ask for the halt on CL, and continue. Practicing this on CL in a serpentine gives me 3 times the practice of my start or ending halt,salute in a test, without doing it at X and creating anticipation in my mare of a particular spot. I focus on the straightness and accuracy of the halt on the CL, and how quick to the aids she is to move out or halt, which has really helped us get away from the feeling of being dragged into a halt at the end of the test (so ugly!)
            Currently working on 1st level work and improving quality of our trot work so this is a great thread!
            Crayola Posse~Aquamarine
            Love vs Money...for the love of my horse, I have no money!


            • #7
              My favorite new exercise is the verrrrrrrry slow leg yield. 1/4 line to wall along the entire length of a full sized arena slow. My greenie is of the black and white mindset of go straight or go sideways. And wanted to take over and drive the movement, flying sideways. This was great for teaching her to truly be on the aids, instead of just choosing how to do things.

              Also, because my greenie is older (5 with about 3 months real work so far), circles to just bore her into a steady rhythm we then straighten and take forward. She's in a go-go-GO! phase, so a bit of monotony to settle her is a good thing.

              For a less green/more 1st/second level type, I want to start really getting into good transitions. 1st level is where my older mare started offering half steps when I was transitioning from trot to walk. Legs vibrating lightly on in the downward to keep the hind legs moving, gets them coming uphill in their downwards, and gets them folding the hind legs. It's also when we started working her on just being more electric off the legs in general. Really tiny aids, REALLY go if she doesn't respond, then try again. Over and over and over. Because we weren't yet working true half steps or half pass or pirouettes, it was a focus on correct, constantly, rather than anything in the way of interesting exercises.

              Also cones. Body control issues need to be fixed at that point, so setting up different cone patterns, whether for figure 8s or circles, and working on doing things at specific points on the cone shape really highlights areas to work on.
              If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


              • #8
                Turn across the diagonal. Ride 3-4 strides of walk or trot straight. Then very slowly bring the haunches over more and more each stride until you are in leg yield parallel to the wall.

                Ride a 20m square at the walk. No bend in the corners, just half halt to balance, slow the walk, and then bring the shoulders around to the new direction almost like a quarter turn on the haunches thought. Then marching walk forward. After a few tries, trot the straight sides, and walk the turns. If your horse understands them, you can add bend and ride real quarter turns.


                • #9
                  Correctly done spiral circles. Making sure they're being done without use of the inside or outside rein. Being careful to keep the hindquarters on the Circe, not flying out as so often happens.

                  This exercise is a prelude to inside leg to outside rein, and shoulder in. But only if done correctly.
                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                  • #10
                    Leg yields and serpentines - my regular warm up routine... Agree with Samantha - there are SO many different LY exercises. At all gaits.