Remember those exercises we did in riding school as beginners? Round the world, leaning down and touching your toes and of course, no stirrups? Well it just so happens that these old gems can be super beneficial to your riding…

My beloved pony Sian, when I was a little girl!
My beloved pony Sian, when I was a little girl!

I had an adult’s riding lesson at Quob Stables and we started the warm up by doing hilariously fun exercises such as leaning forwards to touch our horse’s ears, then back to touch his tail. Next we tried leaning down to touch our feet without moving our legs and then circled our arms around to loosen our shoulders.

The things I learnt from this were:

  • I am seriously less flexible than the last time I did this about ten years ago
  • My balance isn’t as good as I thought (I nearly fell off when trying to touch my feet!!)
  • It is so much fun and laughter is a great relaxant, which in turn is great for your riding

It got me thinking about all the other things I used to do as a child which are great for riding, but as adults we rarely do. I vividly remember a lesson where our instructor pulled us in to the middle of the school, got us to dismount and remove our saddles, then re-mount (by this I mean clamber up the horse’s side) and continue our lesson. It was great fun!

I also used to love riding bareback to the fields when I’d turn out; it was such a good feeling. There is something liberating about riding in just a head collar and only having your legs and seat to steer. The same concept applies to our lessons when we’d have to tie our reins in a knot, hold our arms out like aeroplane wings and steer the little riding school ponies just with our legs!

Me riding Pudding to the field a long time ago...
Me riding Pudding to the field a long time ago…

And the dreaded no stirrups! So good for lengthening our legs and improving our balance, but is there anyone out there who practices this regularly? I’d love to know!

I’d be reluctant to ride Cee bareback because I honestly don’t know how he’d react, but tonight when I ride, I’m going to have some child-like fun and enjoy some of these activities, because I think I might learn more about my balance, my riding, my horse and of course have some fun in the process!

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