The Cool Down & Review

Sometimes we get so into the lesson or activity we forget about appropriately ending the class and before you know it, you only have time left to do a quick lap to cool down and dismount. If your “punch line” needs a little revitalizing (like mine do lately) I hope this will help!

The Review & Cool Down

What is the Review & Cool Down?

When you wrap up the lesson by cooling down the horse and riders’ bodies (not always needed if they have not worked hard) and reviewing the lesson (interactive).

Why do a Review & Cool Down?

  • Rider benefits
    • Cooling down after working hard will let them catch their breath, prevent dizziness (which can be caused by slowing your heart rate suddenly), and prevent muscle cramping (by defusing lactic acid buildup in muscles). (Livestrong, Struby)
    • Stretching after a workout can help improve flexibility and prevent injury. (Livestrong)
    • Reviewing the lesson gives you the opportunity to see what they didn’t understand during the lesson and fill in the gaps.
    • Taking time to transition will help the riders prepare to dismount and go home.
    • Letting them help cool down their horse gives them bonding time and helps teach horse management skills.
  • Horse benefits
    • Cooling down reduces the horse’s body temp and heart rate, which speeds recovery and prevents shock or colic.
    • Letting the horse stretch out his neck and back muscles helps prevent lactic acid build up, too much of which causes fatigue, cramping, and strains.
    • Walking the horse allows heat in the muscles to leave before putting him away.
    • Helps the horse transition, ending on a positive note, and preparing him to rest.

How should you do the Review & Cool Down?

Consider using any of the following:

  • Length of time
    • depends on the riders’ needs and how much the horses needs to be cooled down
    • 2-5 minutes, 10 if the horse is really hot or needs hosing off
  • Cool down the horse (if needed)
    • Walk laps each direction
    • Teach riders how to check horse for coolness: breathing, nostrils, sweat, chest heat
    • Dismount, loosen girth, and hand walk
    • On hot days the rider can help hose the horse of
  • Cool down the riders (if needed)
    • Repeat the warmups, or use other exercises for stretching
    • Ride without stirrups to stretch out legs
    • Go on a trail ride
    • Play music
    • Give 5 min free time to choose any activity they want (at the walk, and must tell their team what the plan is)
  • Review with the riders (PATH wants to see this at certification)
    • At the halt or walk
      • At the halt – if movement distracts the riders, if need eye contact to keep attention
      • At the walk – if riders need movement to focus, or benefit more from horse’s movement
    • Summarize the lesson and key points
      • Make it interactive
      • Don’t just tell them what they did
      • Ask questions
      • Have them show you
      • Play a review game
      • Give them feedback about what they did well and need to work on
      • Ask them to self-evaluate: What did you do well? What did your horses do well? What did the other rider do well? What do you need to work on? This can be a new and important experience for them – learning to identify what they did well and be proud of themselves is a confidence-boosting life skill; hearing someone else compliment them can be encouraging and exciting.
    • Application
      • Apply the lesson to life goals/skills
    • Prepare them for the next lesson
      • Tell them what we’ll learn next, how this lesson ties into the overall progression
      • Gives them something to look forward to
      • Consider giving them homework (stretches, reading, coloring sheet, etc.)

Examples of Cool Downs & Reviews

  • For a lesson about posting
    • Cool down the horse – walking on the rail, 1 lap each direction
    • Review – ask “What is posting?” Have them show you while walking on the rail. Ask “What was hard about it? What helped?”
    • Application – explain “now that you know how to post, if you ever go on a trail ride and get a really bumpy horse, posting will make riding him more comfortable!”
  • For a lesson about direct rein steering
    • Cool down the horse – walking on the rail, let neck stretch down long since just used it to bend often
    • Cool down the rider – with leader clipped, put reins on neck and shake out hands
    • Review – ask “What is direct rein steering?” have them show you with imaginary reins
    • Application – explain how learning to steer gets you one step closer to riding independently, or uses similar muscles to steering a bike
  • For a lesson about posting and arena awareness, with life goals for making friends and improved social interactions
    • Cool down the horse and rider – walk 1 lap each direction with feet out of stirrups, give quiet time to calm down and transition, tell them to think of 1 thing they and their horse did well
    • Halt in the middle and review – ask “What is posting? What is one thing you did well? What is one thing your horse did well? What is one thing the other rider did well?”
    • Application – discuss arena awareness and flexibility in life


What are your favorite things to do for the cool down and review?


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 judgement!

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