equitation exercises

To the trainers/instructors: What are some exercises you use to strengthen your equitation riders? I’m looking for stretches/positions that can be done both on and off the lunge line to help riders of all seats.

Riders/students: What exercises do you think have helped you the most? I’d like input even on the exercises you hate doing :)

I ask this because we’ve recently started taking eq. kids to bigger shows. They all have great seats and balance, but I feel like some of the lack that crispness that the great riders possess. I’ve been teaching for 5-6 years, but previously focused more on the horsemanship side of things, and would really like to be able to put together a decent eq. rider. I never showed eq at the class A shows, so didn’t have to endure that torture :) Any tips or input are GREATLY appreciated.

PS… we need an equitation or instruction tag!

7 Responses to equitation exercises

  1. empressive says:

    I went through that torture. By myself and had to teach myself. I recieved a few lessons from some really great Morgan trainers and the rest I watched.

    What you are looking for is a great presence. Just as there are great horses that just blow you away. Riders can do the same thing. Face up and smile! These kids need to feel confident. Getting your shoulders back and sitting up “soldier” straight helps too.

    Also let them know that it is OK to ask the judge questions most important is asking what and where they can improve. As for excercising sitting on a large excercise ball and straddling your legs around is a very good excercise. If the kids cannot trail ride in english them there riding work must come home with them.

    Old addage “you are only as in shape as your horse” Well then these kids need to get in shape. Core muscles are very important in maintaing a straight back while allowing the hips to move freely with the horse. When these kids feel comfortable in the saddle they will feel more confident overall.

    For the core muscles I suggest crunches. Leg lifts also help the thighs. For some reason when in classes if I start to freak out my arms start hurting and they only hold the reins so whatever to that. Might start working those muscles too. Granted you cannot force a regime on these kids, but at least let them know there is more that they can do to become better riders.

    Those that really wish to succeed will do what it takes. When I first started riding a very wonderful dressage rider told me, “There are people that are born to ride and there are people who persevere to ride better. It is the latter that truly becomes the best.”

    Another was from an old Morgan trainer he said”You can either look pretty or ride pretty.”

    Well good luck! I am sure I will not be the last person here with sound advice.

  2. jns767 says:

    Gosh, Carley, you know the person I’m referring to when I say “my trainer”. She may not be the kindest or easiest person, but back in the day she had some of the best EQ riders around. The thing that kicked our butts (I wasn’t the best, but I was at the farm when they were there as a jr. exhib.) were posting without stirrups. I know it’s classic, but we would cross the diagnal, circle, pick up the stirrups at a trot – sometimes we’d do the whole lesson without stirrups. It was HARD, but kept us in great shape and really helped with balance. I hope to see you at some of the shows this summer!!! Good luck!!

  3. 10jloftus says:

    I’m riding equitation now and taking lessons from a great trainer. what i find most helpful (and most painful) is 2-point (aka half seat, jumpers position) without stirrups. i know it sounds impossible but with a LOT of inner thigh you can really get yourself pretty far out of the saddle. and its gotta be held for at least a couple of laps, also great to do while your horse cools down. just a warning, it is as painful and tiring as it sounds

  4. JC says:


    Two-point without irons for laps? Oh my gosh! Is your trainer a Navy SEAL?

    You’ll be a great rider with that kind of training.


  5. 10jloftus says:

    Its pretty brutal but it works. not a ton of laps just 2-3 and then again at the end. It works!

  6. Kielceski says:

    Yes, I agree with 10jloftus, halfseat without irons is difficult, but very effective. I am a saddleseat equitation rider, so my trainer has me do a lot of these types of exercises. Halfseat in general is great for stretching during warm-up or cool-down. Also, posting without irons helps with strength and endurance.

  7. Jrchloe says:

    This is what I had to do when I was an equitaiton rider that was helpful (and made my life miserable at home but I did pretty well at shows):

    Making sure your bringing belly button to spine helps with sitting up straight.

    On the lunge line with no reins placing arms by side and having rider reach behind back to hold other arm helps with pulling shoulders back.

    Learning to look ahead 1/4 of the circle helps with looking ahead.

    Point elbows to the ground.

    With your chin parallel with the ground stetch your neck up to the sky amd dropping your shoulders to the ground.

    Making sure theres a straight line from shoulder, hip to heel. You want “sharp” angles with back of hip-knee-heel.

    Standing up in your irons and then slowing lowering down into your heels stretching your inner heel down and out is always helpful while warming up or to fix foot/iron position.

    If you have a pretty upper body then two pointing can be an equitaiton rider’s best friend. You can mix up irons or no iron or dropping and picking them up. We would walk (sitting and 2 point), trot (sitting, posting, 2 point), canter (sitting).

    You can mix up sitting, posting and two pointing at the trot (like 7 strides posting, 7 sitting, 7 two pointing, etc).

    Crispness also comes from the fit, styling, and color combo of the suit so make sure that is as good as you can get it.

    Then theres two pointing to warm up then start posting. If the leg is moving then back up in two point for a few more minutes and then try posting again and repeat as necessary. Gets legs still and strong.

    Expressive has some great suggestions as well.

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