before transitioning to the next,
and so on. If, on the other hand,
your horse tends to get revved up
from frequent transitions, allow
him more time to settle into each
gait before transitioning to the next.
Ride a large oval from end to
end of your arena, executing a very
ground-covering and brisk trot
down the long sides of your oval and
then a very slow trot around the
top and bottom ends. Aim to create
two very distinct paces of trot and
prompt transitions between each.
Repeat several revolutions
around the oval this way,
accelerating and decelerating.
After the first few repetitions, you
should feel your horse’s strides
become very elastic and loose. This
pattern also works well in canter
for lazier or older horses.
After completing your workout,
give your horse a 15-minute
period of cooling down: a gradual
tapering of exercise intensity
before completely stopping
work. Maintaining low-intensity
exercise (slow trotting without
collection and easy cantering) at
the end of your workout allows for
the gradual redistribution of blood
flow from skeletal muscles to
internal organs and the removal of
metabolic wastes from tissues.
Stopping exercise suddenly
leaves metabolic waste in the
tissues, which begins to cause
soreness about two hours after a
ride. By gradually decreasing the
exercise in a cool-down phase
prior to walking around on loose
reins, you will ensure that the
muscles have been flushed of
byproducts that create sti;ness
the following day. HI
JEC ARISTOTLE BALLOU is the
author of 101 Dressage Exercises for
Horse & Rider and Equine Fitness.
She resides in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Stepping from trot into
canter will help loosen
your horse’s lower back.
While warming up, don’t
expect perfect show-quality transitions.
up on a grassy
hillside to work