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Prepping for the Show Season

The 2021 summer show season is just around the corner, which means a lot of show prep at home! In today’s post, I am going to share with you my favorite exercises to do, both on and off the horse, to prepare for all of your upcoming shows.


When hacking, I have been focusing on exercises which will have a direct benefit in show ring. I don’t do all of these exercises in one day, instead, I work on perfecting or strengthening one or two of them each day. These are a few things I have been working on:

Circles – Circles begin and end your course so they set the tone for your round. When you have a perfect, round circle, a judge knows you know the buttons on your horse. When you work on your circles consistency is key. Keep your pace steady, be sure your horse isn’t falling in or out of the circle and establish good contact with your horse so you can make minor adjustments easily. I know “making a round circle” sounds silly, but this year I actually learned how to get my horse “straight” and balanced in a circle. It is the first thing the judge will evaluate as you come into the ring. A good, confident circle lets them know you are in it to win it.

Serpentines – Serpentines help with proper bending, straightness, and balance. I like to start a lot of my rides with big, long serpentines, and slowly shorten them as my ride carries on. They are a great way to establish communication and contact with your horse.

Figure eight – Figure eights, in my opinion, have a similar function to serpentines. It gets your horse’s mind working and focuses on straightness (do you see a specific thing I’m working on with JT?). I love to do figure eights at the canter and either do a flying or simple change. It a great way to connect with your horse and keep them focused on you and your directions.

Transitions – Transitions have become one of my all-time favorite exercises to do. Not only does it help strengthen your horse’s muscles and back, but it also improves your ride in the show ring. A horse and rider with smooth, effortless transitions will definitely stand out compared to a team with delayed or clunky transitions. I’ve been creating “dressage” patterns while riding and testing different buttons on my horse. It’s been fun to challenge both myself and my horse beyond just going around the ring on the rail. I’ve also played around to see how many times I can change a gait down the middle or through the center of the ring.

No stirrups – No stirrups work is something everyone loves AND hates. I don’t typically do no stirrups on JT, because he is so young and spirited, but whenever I ride Floyd, I try to add it throughout my session. Taking away one of your supports exposes weaknesses in other aspects of your ride. You may find certain muscle groups, like your abs or back muscles, may need extra work out of the saddle.

Out of the saddle: I exercise anywhere from 3-6 times a week out of the saddle depending on how I’m feeling, and how much riding I’m doing that week. If I am riding both JT and Floyd or have a lesson, I will usually skip my workout because I know I will be sore after riding! I have set goals on my Apple Watch to hit each day, which motivates me to get some sort of workout or movement in each day.

Currently, I am loving our Peloton bike, so I will usually do one to three 15-20 minute workouts on it a week. I love how challenging and fun each ride is, and how much stronger they have made me. After my bike, I will follow up with a 5-10 minute ab workout and a small walk with my dog to cool down my body. If I am not feeling like biking that day, I will either go on a long walk or do a small cardio workout. I have been focusing on workouts that are fun and motivating so it’s not a chore. As long as I’m moving my body and getting my heart rate up or building some muscle it’s a win!

And there you have it! My top tips to prepare yourself for the upcoming show season. Good Luck!


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