This is a really handy activity I learned from one of my mentors, called “5-5-5.”
Do 5 steps or counts of one thing, 5 of another, and 5 of another. Repeat. You can ask for one repetition per wall, up it to two, or go for whole laps.
The benefits are:
- it breaks practicing skills into short chunks that are manageable for their strength or anxiety level
- it incorporates counting and predictability which some students really like or need to work on
- it can involve counting the steps of their horse therefore become more aware of the horse’s way of moving
- it involves memory (3 steps to repeat)
- more repetitions give the rider more opportunities to improve, build confidence, and create muscle memory habits (do you ever write in a progress note “the rider accomplished 2/5 attempts” then think well of course, he only had 5 tries and just started to get it on the last one!)
5 steps 2 point, 5 steps posting, 5 steps sitting
- This can be done as a warm up or cool down
- It works on leg strength, balance, and correcting leg position.
- I love doing this one on the lunge line because it really helps riders improve their leg and coordination while feeling independent!
5-5-5 Walk Trot Walk
5 counts walking, 5 counts trotting, 5 counts walking
I used this the other day for my rider who gets nervous at the trot after a bad fall and it really helped. Knowing he would only trot 5 steps lessened his anxiety. It also kept the horse from getting too fast and bumpy, which gave him a smoother ride, which allowed him to sit properly, which improved his confidence, which allowed him to rider better – it was an upward spiral! His mom also said he really likes the counting and it helps him.
These are the steps I used:
- Trot 5 steps on the long wall
- count out loud: walk 1-2-3-4-5, trot 1-2-3-4-5, walk 1-2-3-4-5
- I had him use the first 5 walking steps to “prepare the trot” by asking his horse to speed up
- when he got it, I had him count while I reminded him “prepare the trot” and “sit up tall, hands off the saddle”
- Trot 5 steps 2x on the long wall
- same as above but two times on the wall, so instead of relaxing after the trot, he had to count 5 steps then go again
- at first we counted together, then I let him count on his own
- 5-5-5 for 1 lap of the arena
- continuously walk 5 trot 5 all the way around the arena
- trot for progressively longer amounts
- the next step I would like to do with this rider is up the number of trotting steps, such as 5-8-5 and 5-10-5, until we can trot long enough he’s comfortable trotting whole laps again
What other skills have you used similar exercises for?
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!