Trot down center line to Halt at X

This was a fun simple lesson I taught the other day, that I want to share with you, as well as a little breakthrough. This rider  is independent enough to get her horse ready and mount on her own, but consistently gets in the arena late and takes half the lesson to settle in to a place we can actually learn and progress, so this week she warmed up early on her own. She also wants to ride a dressage test in the Fun Show this year, so I decided to start at the beginning, trot down the center line then halt at X. So this is what we did.

Warmup on her own

This week I asked her to get her horse in the arena early and warm up all on her own so that by the time her lesson started she was in a place to jump right in, so we could actually get some progression done. I also asked that before she rode she start mentally preparing herself, to think about moving with energy and forwardness, to even get on our fake horse and practice posting. Luckily this fits into the schedule because we have a 15 minute break before her lesson, during which I stayed in the arena and reviewed with the instructor in training so she was supervised.

This change worked wonderfully and we were able to start right off and have a great lesson! The past few weeks we had been working on how to warm a horse up on your own: check in with the gas, the brakes, the steering, the trotting, establish the rhythm, and 2 point – all both directions. So she was prepared, did it on her own, and actually settled in faster than when I lead her through it!

Lesson Plan for Trot Down the Center Line and Halt at X

  1. Warmup
    1. Discuss how the warmup went, if she noticed anything to work on
    2. She noticed he was a bit slow off her leg but overall good
  2. Responsive upward transitions on the rail
    1. Halt to walk
      1. Responsiveness starts from the halt. You can’t get a good walk to trot transition if you don’t have a good halt to walk response.
      2. Apply firmer aids in 3 stages: ask lightly, medium, firm – I held the crop to back up her leg as needed, just holding it was enough
    2. Walk to trot
    3. Both directions until receiving good response from the horse
  3. Responsive downward transitions on the rail
    1. Trot to walk
      1. with energy! don’t ask for the transition then relax, keep the horse moving into an energetic walk
    2. Walk to halt
    3. Trot to halt
  4. Trot down center line, halt at X
    1. Break it down: Trot half a lap, turn down the center line, halt at X, salute, walk then trot down the rest of the center line
    2. Address the components as needed. I initially gave this rider lots of cues for looking ahead, planning the turn onto the center line correctly, and not anticipating the halt with her body in order to keep a good trot until X.
    3. Practice until you get a good one or few attempts.
  5. Cool down

Obviously there are a lot more hows and whys in there for all those transitions that I did not include, I just wanted to give you the overall outline of the lesson plan, because it went so well and I think is a good example of working on the components to set your rider up well once you put them all together, and of working with where the horse and rider were at that day.

What has helped you teach your riders to ride the center line and halt at X?

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Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgment!

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