So you don’t have a lesson until next week and you have days of riding on your own ahead. Just plain tired of turning circles in the arena? You don’t have to!

We can’t jump every day. But there is no need for anyone to be bored on the flat. There are so many fun flatwork drills you and your horse can do to keep things interesting!

(And we highly recommend keeping things interesting. A bored horse is a horse that may decide to entertain himself at your expense, haha.)

Along those lines, we love these flatwork exercises that benefit any horse and rider and can improve jumping performance, too:

Serpentines, shallow loops and spirals. These in their many variations are awesome for so many reasons. They break up the old circle-rail-circle routine and engage your horse’s brain. Sometimes horses just go to the rail on autopilot. With these exercises, you can teach them, “No, you have to listen to me! You never know when I might change it up!” Use these to train bending and leg yielding, too.

Cavaletti and homemade obstacle courses. If you find a jumping course or anything else set up in the arena where you ride, don’t think of it as “in the way.” Instead, use it! You can turn virtually anything in the arena into a fun obstacle course with a little imagination! For example, try lowering the jumping poles to the ground and riding the course over poles instead of jumps. You might be surprised how well this enables you to think about bend, steering, strides, balance, suppleness and everything else without the distraction of actually taking off, flying through the air and landing. Also, try setting up poles at right angles in an “X” formation and then trotting over them in a circle. It’s hard work that’ll help your horse balance back on his haunches.

Rollbacks. These are great for building horsey butt muscle and teaching proper balance. (And they’re especially helpful for polo players to practice!) You can start at a walk and gradually build up to faster speeds.

Transitions. Like rollbacks, transitions help horses learn to balance and relax at different speeds. Practicing lots of transitions also keeps your horse listening instead of the “tuning out” that might happen if you just go through the walk, trot, canter routine all the time.

Last but not least, any kind of dressage work is always, always fantastic.


Do you have a favorite flatwork routine? We’d love to hear about it! Send us a comment!