How beginner exercises can help your riding (if you don’t mind looking a bit silly).

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!


  1. I’m such a big kid, always doing full scissors on Otis. Once I had my spurs on and accidentally jabbed his croup but luckily he just jumped! I always make the kids I teach do aeroplane, sitting and rising trot, touch the toes, lie back onto the horse’s back… Everything we used to do at the end of lessons.
    I can remember having to remove our saddles whilst still on our horses one indoor arena lesson. I think my instructor had just seen the police demo where they remove their saddles whilst jumping …

    She had big dreams for us! Ha!

    Oh and no stirrup work is a must for all my clients and I try to do it a couple of times a week, I don’t always succeed but the intentions there.

    Have you tried standing up and staying standing in your stirrups whilst trotting round? Great for balance and getting weight into lower leg. Also good for balance is changing your rising rhythm so it’s up-down-down-up-down-down (like changing your diagonal) and then up-up-down-down and up-up-down-up-up-down. Let me know how you get on 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha yes! I know exactly which police demo you mean! I saw it one year at Olympia 😀
      I am certainly going to try things like changing my rising rhythm as soon as Cyryl is feeling back to good health (he’s been a bit under the weather recently).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. He he….last Monday a friend of mine and I were playing around, we ended up bareback and it was so much fun! I must try getting on without a saddle or a leg up, I’ve no excuse as Abbey is only 14hh….

    Liked by 1 person

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