Read these dressage rider fitness program reviews and testimonials below. These are from riders just like you who have completed the program and then sent me these photos and comments.
“The program was fabulous. For someone coming back from an injury, the program definitely helped me regain not only my confidence on my horse but also the muscles and skills necessary to do so. Both of my trainers have commented on how much better I am in the saddle than I was before the program.”
– Pamela Knudsen, Washington, US
– Shawn Maurice, Texas, US
“It’s very hard to take a selfie when your best friend has an extremely large head! This is Gabe, my 7 yo ottb. We have been together for 3 1/2 years. Never would have seen myself on a young TB but he is the perfect gentleman. Riding dressage at 56 yo has it’s challenges, especially on a young horse and an inexperienced rider. DRT was just what I needed to improve my athletic abilities, particularly core and balance. I looked forward to my workouts daily. I accomplished things I never thought I could be capable of: Hindu squat, balancing on Swiss ball, and 30 days of stirrup less riding. The workout has options for all levels and Nicola is positive, encouraging, and genuine in her efforts to help you reach your full riding potential. Can’t wait for # 2! Thank you so much!”
– Susan Kicklighter, Florida, US
“The DRT program has helped me and my horse Stormy so much. I lost 2 dress sizes over the three months. And most importantly, i have become a much better rider and Stormy and I have become a team. Prior to the program, I had always been afraid to canter. Further my stamina was not nearly good enough and I was not pushing Stormy enough. Now we are cantering, and I am in better shape than my horse! The two of us are working on increasing her stamina for cantering now and are looking forward to riding in some shows this summer.”
– Rachel Baghelai Crystral Lake, United States
” This program is PERFECT and is just what I was looking for. While I’ve done weights and they helped me feel stronger as a person, and while I’ve done cardio which helped with endurance in riding, this program is the only exercise regimen that has effectively addressed the muscles necessary to advance my riding. Doing this program — even only the first 5 weeks of it — helped me in ways that I thought would take years to develop (e.g., using my seat more effectively such as in asking for canter transitions, creating an independent seat, independence with using legs and abs without tensing other areas incorrectly). I have to work hard to maintain muscle so I anticipate using these work outs over and over again over time to maintain these muscles after I rebuild and continue to build them. Thank you so so so much for providing answers I never thought I’d find in my riding, or that I thought would take way way longer to develop. It makes it so much more fun to feel more correct and confident more quickly in what I’m doing and to be able to communicate to my horse more effectively! He tries so hard for me, now I can feel better about what I’m doing for him!”
– Erica Larson, Kansas United States
“I just wanted to let you know how thrilled I have been with your Dressage Riders Training course! I signed up not quite knowing what to expect – and wondering if I could anticipate real results from an online course. I can now report that I have noticed a meaningful difference in my overall strength, flexibility and balance. This is all the more important to me as work commitments this past quarter have meant limited opportunity to ride – being able to put in effort at times that suit me has meant I feel I am continuing to work at improving my riding despite the challenges of daily living. For me, the results will not be short lived as I have also developed a far deeper appreciation of what physically needs to happen to maintain a strong yet flexible position – and the impact poor posture, old injuries and a degree of laziness in setting new challenges for myself have had on my balance and endurance (both on and off a horse!) As a middle aged person looking to maintain good health, these learnings alone are invaluable. I highly recommend your Dressage Rider Training – I will definitely be signing up for your next course. I have attached a picture of Gambit and me from last weekend – I really hope he appreciates my efforts on that Swiss ball!”
– Sarah Baldwin, Perth Australia
“My name is Linda Brown, I am a qualified RWYM Rider Biomechanics Coach,NZEF registered Coach and Dressage Rider. I want to thank Nicola for developing DRT (Dressage Rider Training). I have been using DRT since its inception and have found it easy to use and huge benefit to my riding fitness. Site support is instant and unlike other fitness programs, DRT is designed for riders and their unique fitness requirements. It is great to be able to fit in a 20 minute session as and where I like and to be able to repeat it when necessary. You don’t have to be a Grand Prix Dressage rider to get the max out of this product. DRT is for anybody that rides Dressage whether they are a beginner to dressage , a happy hacker, a top dressage rider or just want to feel safe and in control. I am sure our horses will thank you for this excellent product Nicola and I would like to recommend this program to anybody who has little time to spend on their own fitness but wants to be the best they can be for the sake of their horses and their own riding ability.”
– Linda Brown, New Zealand, NZEF Coach, RWYM Biomechanics Coach
The DRT program is phenomenal! It is challenging, but not overwhelming. I’m stronger, more flexible and a better rider as a result of the program. (And I’m not a spring chicken!) I have a deeper more stable seat and much clearer communication through my aides. Where my horse used to start hollow, he is now willing to step up under my seat from the get go. I’m no longer blocking him with my back. I would (and have) recommend this program to anyone equestrian or not who wants to improve strength and flexibility. And it’s fun! Except maybe balancing on that pesky ball!???? Thanks so much for making this program available to us!!!
– Terrie Hargrove, Texas United States
This I can say atm, I have a pilates reformer and I was curious to know if your exercises would give me the same type of core strengthening. Learning pilates, using the equipment, is not easy and costs alot of money. Not accessible to most riders. Nicola, your program delivers the core strength results. You are an inspiring, realistic and grounded instructor. I particularly like: how you empower your students, working out at home, the intense 20 minute time frame – awesome, its not 50 minutes……..the homework, the daily stretches! When a rider starts understanding their core, then how to activate it (the hardest part), so much about riding (and life) all comes together. When we are consistently in our core, using it to walk, ride etc, we are grounded within ourselves, we make better life decisions. I really like how you teach yoga, no ‘“guru” stuff, but with mindfulness 🙂 I will be joining your online gym when my 6 months membership needs renewal.
– Lisa Spamer, New South Wales Australia
I’d been searching for the right type of exercise program for a long time with the aim of improving my riding.
Your program gave me exactly what I was after. I now feel that my body is more balanced and stronger than ever before. I look forward to Part 2.
– Roberta Campbell, Victoria Australia
“A fellow dressage rider friend suggested I consider this program when I asked how I might improve my fitness out of the saddle. Despite regular riding of two horses both moving into the FEI levels, I knew I had to do more and I did not have the additional time to go to a gym or regular fitness classes. This program turned out to be perfect not only because I could fit it in, but because it made so much sense to me. I could link every exercise back to being in the saddle and I have seen tremendous improvement on many levels but particularly with my balance and ability to recover my balance while riding. I highly recommend riders to try the program and to stick with it if you want to make a significant positive impact on your riding. Like everything in life, if you put in the effort, you will get the results.”
– Gardy Bloemers – Virginia, United States
“I must admit I though long and hard before joining this program. There are so many out there that promise miraculous results in a ridiculously short space of time…..but, guess what…..this one ACTUALLY DELIVERS. If you are willing to commit to the workouts (20 minutes just 3 times a week) and put in the practise with your horse, I can guarantee you will see a dramatic change in your riding ability.
I am just an ordinary person getting back into riding after a couple of horse-less decades. I am lucky enough to now own two horses, again fairly ordinary, but priceless to me. I don’t even compete! I knew I was stuck at a certain level of competence and had a lot of problems getting my Irish Sport Horse ‘Stan’ to go forwards from my leg. I also realised I needed to work on getting myself physically fitter and stronger (being on the wrong side of 50!) and so I signed up for the DRT program.
The point I am making here is that this program is not just for competition riders, but also for anyone at any level who seriously wants to improve their riding ability. You will learn how to become more balanced and flexible as your seat becomes deeper which in turn will help you feel safer and more confident in the saddle.
I was surprised to discover I had very little core strength. I was also tight through my hips, had ceased up hamstrings and was very hollow backed. Then I discovered ‘neutral spine’ and everything I had ever learnt about riding went out the window. When I was young I was never taught about ‘biomechanics’. You either had natural ability or you didn’t. Now I am convinced that anyone can reach that higher level if they develop the necessary core strength, balance and stability.
There is so much more I could say – suffice to say that every credit should go to Nicola Smith for the way she has put this ingenious program together, geared specifically for the horse rider. Within each workout there are always different options to choose from so you can start at a level that is safe for you without causing unnecessary strain and risking injury. As the weeks progress and you find yourself getting stronger and more flexible, you can always repeat the exercises with the harder options. Then there are ‘fun’ things like ‘ 30 days without stirrups’ (I actually enjoy this now!) and, of course, the wretched Swiss ball (okay, I still can’t actually sit up on the thing, but I’m working on it!) You’ll be able to do so much more than you ever imagined.
And not only that – as you become fitter and more centred – everyday tasks become easier as you use your newly developed core muscles and not your back! You will also lose weight and become more toned and balanced with a better posture.
And, if all of this isn’t enough, the single most important difference you will see is how your horse responds to the ‘new’ you. My beloved Stan is no longer slow and sluggish. He is sharp and round and so much more ‘through’ from the minute I get on him. No more bouncing around on a hollow backed horse! It’s like we are finally talking the same language and who knows….we might actually do some dressage next year!
So if your New Year’s resolution is to improve your riding ability I would say don’t spend your money on expensive gym memberships or workout programs that aren’t geared towards horse riders. Sign up to the Dressage Rider Training Program NOW and let Nicola show you just how awesome you can become. I promise you won’t regret it and your horse will be the first to thank you. This has honestly been the best investment I have ever made, not only for my own health, but also for my horses’ happiness and well-being.
Thank you so much, Nicola, for this superb program of exercises that I will carry on with for the rest of my life. Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in Phase 2, but I certainly want to be a part of it!!!!
Pam : -)”
– Pamela Castelli, Lincoln, UK
I thoroughly enjoyed your DRT program! Halfway through I started dropping more weight and really toning my body to another dress size smaller. Although I wasn’t able to ride my horse during the 2nd 2 months of the program, I did keep up with all the ‘non-ridden’ workouts. When I was finally able to ride, it was like riding at a whole different level. I was suddenly able to get my body to perform the way I was trying so hard to make it perform prior to the start of this program. I’m very pleased with the awesome improvements I can feel everytime I get on my horse, and am very much looking forward to a [promised] Phase II. Thank you Nicola!
– Sue, Naperville, US
Greeting Nicola from Virginia! I have appreciated your Dressage Rider Training program immensely! You have helped me increase my body awareness in and out of the saddle, and the exercises have helped me become stronger and improve my position in the saddle! Although, I have found going through the program just once wasn’t enough for me that I improved greatly the second time and now I hope to be able to balance on the ball with my knees like you do in my third time. You and your wonderful Lucy – dog and horse are a delight! You have inspired me to be strong like you by your gentleness, kindness and encouraging words! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time, efforts and help in achieving a very convenient and fun program just for riders! Sincerely, Your horse friend in Virginia.
– Shelley Mitchell, Virginia, US
“Hello! I’d have to say the number one thing I’ve taken away from the program is … confidence! I’ve been able to keep up, which tells me I am fitter than I think I am … I kept to the progam, which tells me I am more determined than I think I am … Want proof? I don’t have a horse of my own, but tend to like to ride the same school horses again and again since I can better predict their ways. Since starting DRT, I have started on four new and different horses, the ones I always thought were ‘above my level.’ And I accepted these horse assignments without freaking out. Ha!”
– Suzanne O’connor, New York, US
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and benefited immensely from the Dressage Rider Training programme. My core strength and flexibility have both improved significantly and this has translated into greater stability and effectiveness in the saddle. The downloadable 20-minute exercise sessions can manageably be fitted into a busy schedule and done anywhere (in your lounge, at the stable yard, in your hotel if you’re away from home…) The inclusion of both strength and mobility exercises provides variety, and Nicola ensures that their relevance to riding is clear. The work on the Swiss ball is great fun, and the (apparently unscheduled) guest appearances of Nicola’s horse and dog in some of the videos are a most amusing added bonus! I’d highly recommend the programme to all riders, regardless of their preferred discipline and level of experience.”
– Sarah Johnsen, Edinburgh, UK
“Dressage Rider Training has kept me focused over the 12 week programme as every stage has made sense. Building up my core and rider strength and increasing my mobility and suppleness, have been greatly rewarded with more enjoyable rides and a happier horse! Nicola encourages and motivates in exactly the right amounts and manages to keep the most strenuous workouts fun. I would wholeheartedly recommend the programme to anyone with limited time and a desire to improve their riding”
– Ali Schmutz, Cumbria, UK
“Hi Nicola, Thank you for the encouragement and personal follow up you provided. I loved being able to fit in exercises at home in my own time,without a long drive to and from gym. My favourite parts were the yoga and on horse homework.”
– Shirley Paterson, Tauranga, New Zealand
“Last year in late May I had an accident out hacking, where my leg and the saddle flap caught on a gate post, my horse panicked and rushed through and I came off, suffering 3 pelvic fractures and torn muscles. I was starting to ride again by late summer/early autumn but despite physio, my muscles were tight and often painful, my core strength non-existent and my riding fitness was poor. I really struggled with the first few weeks of DRT, but by about week 6 I could ride through a 45 minute lesson with my trainer without feeling exhausted or needing lots of walk breaks and he commented on how much better I was riding. This meant we could take things up a level and start riding the more advanced movements, which is great! Attached photo is of me with Neon, my now 20 year old PRE (Andalusian) gelding.”
– Marianne Rabanal, Oxfordshire, UK
“I have loved doing the program. It was so easy to roll out of bed, turn on the laptop and do my exercise. I think it has given me more control over my body when I am riding, and has also toned me up. I feel great, and for the first time in ages, I don’t wake up feeling stiff. I will definitely sign up to the next program.”
– Jillian Staton, Victoria, Australia
“I absolutely believe your program has helped my riding. As an older rider carrying many old injuries I have always been very tight in my hips and hamstrings. I now feel like I have increased flexibility especially when doing lateral work. I love the yoga stretches especially and also love that I can do the workouts whenever I can fit them in to my busy schedule (sometimes midnight, my husband thinks I’m crazy). Thanks so much. Photo attached of my gorgeous 5yo mare, Donnerstar CDS (Twinkle).”
– Ellen Mitchell, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand
“For me, the program was helpful because it increased my awareness while I was riding and brought so many small (important ) points to my attention. ” Here is a photo of Marcurio and me after doing a dressage test!”
– Lilian M Ewen, British Columbia, Canada
“Hi Nicola, Thanks for the fabulous 12 week programme. It is nice to be able to do this at home and not to also have to allow travel time or do it at a particular time. The flexibility of that makes it easier to make time to fit it in as well as the fact that it is only 20 minutes. That helped when the programme got harder – it was only 20 minutes of pain!!
I have never done Yoga before and my flexibility has never been great so this is a real challenge especially at 51. I am not riding enough to know if it has improved my riding – however I am more aware of my body position when sitting at my desk and in my car as well as when I am on the horse. Thanks for putting this programme together. “
– Sheryl McKinley, Auckland, New Zealand
“I have struggled for many years in Dressage, getting frustrated with how much I interfered and hindered my horses. Then this program came along and the improvements started happening at an unbelievable pace. My body stability, balance, core strength, symmetry, and flexibility improved, which allowed me to become much more independent in the saddle, improving my feel, making my aids lighter and clearer, allowing me to relax more, which made riding so much more harmonious and fun for both me and my horses. It was a big missing piece of my puzzle. A must for any Dressage rider!” I mean every word! Thank you for this transformation! Gratefully
– Mark Lawand, Surrey, Canada
“Hi Nicola, I have just completed my first 12 weeks and have signed up for DRT2. Really enjoyed the program, found it challenging and you inspiring. Have raved on about it to my friends and one has now signed up for her first DRT. I am 72 and feeling more fit, supple and strong than I have for some time. Regards Trish”
– Trish Furness, Masterton, New Zealand
“It does what it says on the tin…
It might seem a little strange that I am writing this testimonial at a stage when, I confess, I am still doing phase two of a three phase programme, but it says a lot for the programme that I can, even at this stage, confirm that it does what it says it will.
I signed up for DRT 1 at the start of this year (2017). At the time my riding had, over the previous 6 months, gradually changed from riding one advanced horse and one working towards advanced five to six days a week, to having one green horse and riding three to four times a week if I was lucky (weather and work commitments). I realised that I was not riding so well, I was losing strength and co-ordination and I really needed to do something about it. Going to the gym or joining an exercise class were fine options in theory, but the reality was that juggling a fairly demanding job, the vagaries of the Irish winter weather and minding 5 horses left little time to get to the gym/class and way too many excuses to skip it (just this once….).
I signed up to DRT 1, downloaded my first video and started my journey. A few weeks later my horse sustained an injury that meant no riding for 10 weeks! This is the longest period I have gone without riding in the last 15 years. Normally if I miss one week of riding I feel weaker and less co-ordinated, now I was facing returning to riding my sharp, spooky, green horse after ten weeks….
But I had DRT. Even though, due to work travel and some health issues of my own, I had not managed to follow the programme exactly, I felt stronger, more supple and better co-ordinated than I had felt in a very long time. I was amazed at how confident I felt that first time I sat up on my horse again, and my expectations were fulfilled – I was riding better than I had before the enforced break.
So why did DRT work for me? There are a few reasons:
Firstly, the programme really targets what I need as a dressage rider – strength, suppleness and co-ordination, in all the right places;
Secondly, the structure of the programme, with three 20 minute workouts a week and homework, works perfectly with my lifestyle. I might miss a session, or even a week, due to work or life getting in the way, but I have all the workouts on my Kindle and I can take up where I left off, or even go back a week if I feel the need. I love the way Nicola offers several different levels of difficulty in most exercises, so if I have to repeat a week it’s not boring – I’ll try the harder option second time around. Having this structure has really helped me to stick with the programme, even if my pace is slower than I might like.
Thirdly, the homework – it’s transformed my life! I have known about, and tried to fix for years my crookedness as a rider and my tight hip muscles and ITB, but somehow I never seemed to get there. The homework has finally given me tools that really work. And the tip about using stretching in the yard – brilliant! I always felt that I could stretch without having done a full workout first, but now every free moment I have in the yard, I’ll do a quick stretch.
Fourthly – 20 minute work-outs – pure genius! At the end of a long day it takes more willpower than I have to face into an hour-long workout. But 20 minutes, hey, that’s not so bad. It’s so much easier to face that and to find a time slot to fit it into. I’d recommend this programme to anyone who wants to ride better and feel better.”
– Jenny Egan, County Meath, Ireland
“I really love this program. I am a grandma in my early 60’s and have ridden most of my life, but have never felt more balanced and flexible than after having finished the first 12 week session. I have had issues with tight hips, and sciatica pain and after doing the exercises, I feel much looser and with no pain! As an added bonus, I recently was on a trip with a round trip flight (3-1/2 hrs. each way) and had NO pain or tightness when I got up out of the seat. That hasn’t happened in years! I am so much stronger in the saddle, and rising trot has become so easy with my improved strength & balance. I am looking forward to the DRT-2 program to continue to enhance my riding. Thank you for creating such a beneficial program!”
– Lesley Armstrong, Illinois, United States
“I absolutely loved the Dressage Rider Training program. I have not had much success with gyms in the past. Being a wife, a mom of 3 boys, 4 dogs and 3 horses and working full time I was struggling with balance. I was trying to maintain a home, family and a career and it did not leave me much time to ride let alone exercise. With Nicola’s program I was able to find a way to bring some “me” time back into my life, combine it with my passion for riding and still fit it into my busy schedule. Not only that but the further I got into the program I found that Nicola helped me to see how my life was out of balance and how to become centered again focusing on mind, body and spirit. I loved the format, the rider focused exercises, homework on horseback and the extra access to the entire suite of programs she offers to include sections on nutrition, recipes and meditations. Unlike other programs she is very accessible and quick to respond personally to questions if you need help. I cannot wait for DRT 2 to start! Thank you again Nicola! Your program has had a very positive impact on my life and my riding! Romeo is much happier too! :)”
– Audrey Snyder, Williamsburg United States
“I really enjoyed the challenges of your course. I am much more secure and stable on Fleur .
I feel fitter and more confident in my riding.”
Helen Sangster-Ward, Marborough, New Zealand
I enjoyed DRT1 so much I signed straight up for DRT2. On completing DRT2 I have my fingers crossed for a DRT3!! The program has enabled me to let go of my tight shoulders which has really freed up my upper body. It also made me aware of just how tight my pelvis and lower back were. Now I ride with a longer, stronger and more independent leg and a core strength that puts a smile on my face. So worth the money. The work outs have become part of my weekly routine.
– Liz Lawlor, Queensland, Australia
“I would like to thank you so much for the huge improvements I had with your programs. It was really useful to improve my seat, balance and position on the horse. Really a professional support! This here is a photo of me and my horse Carestina z.”
– Francesca Pouché, Monaco, France
“This program came at just the right time. I struggled with injury and my regular workouts were too intense and not enough focused on what I needed for riding. Starting this program with a trainer who understands what the rider requires, is exactly what I needed. The program helped with working out after rehab in a measured way but with the strong focus on core I felt the benefits very quickly. I learned a great yoga sequence to use as warm up before getting on the horse and it was just as beneficial after each ride to stretch more purposefully. In my particular case: i was an avid gym goer before this program but I highly recommend this program in addition to any regular workouts. It will challenge a seasoned fit person with modifications but if you are just starting out the program is designed to work with whatever level you are at!”
– Conny Fuger, California, United States
“The program helped me with my balance, posture and body strength.”
– Fernando Rolim, Sao Paulo, Brazil
“I thoroughly enjoyed the DRT programme. My strength, balance, confidence & ability have all improved as a result. I have downloaded it all and will continue to use it & benefit from it. It was very useful being in contact with everyone taking the course via Facebook too. Thank you Nicola I really feel I/we have benefitted so much from completing the course.”
– Fiona Del Giudice, East Sussex, United Kingdom
“I always tried to work out because I am almost 53 and need to stay in shape to keep riding. I was never a fan of yoga but now I am! Thank you! I know I need to stay flexible. The fact that the program is for riders makes me get out of bed and work out before work! I really like it! Looking forward the next level! The overall program definitely help with my riding, posture and balance are better.”
– Nicole Tuggle, Western Springs, United States
“I am a mature amateur dressage rider and I invest quite a lot of time and money into my riding including weekly professional coaching and attending clinics with international trainers not to mention a small fortune in physiotherapists and feed supplements for my horse. I have to say though that DRT has been by far the BEST VALUE in terms of improved performance in my riding, and I had a lot of fun. Definitely the best investment you can make if you want to improve your riding”
– Jill Smit, Queensland, Australia
“My riding has progressed amazingly fast after signing on to Dressage Rider Training. You know that feeling that you’ve plateau’ed? I had it, for years, where i didn’t seem to be adding much to my horsemanship … but oh my, what a difference after starting this program! It’s a matter of better control and understanding of my own body mechanics. I sit better, I’m considerably more confident, and it’s all because of those three 20-minute sessions a week. I cannot believe how my entire mindset changed to become so much more confident, but since I can do those exercises and work the muscles I need to ride, a lot of my fear and anxiety just … went away. I cannot emphasize enough how much this program has helped.”
Suzanne o’connor, New York, United States
“Since I started the DRT 1 Program I’ve felt a greater sense of overall well-being from being a stronger (middle-aged) woman. I can also feel more aware of how I sit on a horse and increasingly have the flexibility and muscle capacity to correct my position. I am at Week 8 now, and am looking forward to seeing how strong and flexible I can become.”
– Nicki Mazur, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
“I understand, so much better now, specifically how my body impacts my riding and what I can do about it. Everything is easier – strength, balance and posture, on and off the horse, and my awareness of my strengths and weaknesses in these areas has significantly increased and continues to grow. The workouts are different every time so it’s fresh and interesting but it also reinforces the work we’ve already done. Each workout pushes you further so every week I’m making progress that I can see and feel, but the increases in effort aren’t so difficult that it’s daunting to come back for the next work out. The articles are informative and often inspiring. The support that is provided is timely and effective. I find that my riding is so much more enjoyable and I look forward to continuing my own physical and mental journey in this direction. This has been such a rewarding undertaking. Thank you Nicola and DRT!”
– Lynette Van Steinburg, British Columbia, Canada
“I loved the program. It really got to the spots in my hips that other programs, not related to horse activities have addressed. It strengthened and loosened up my hips.”
– Karen Walling, Washington, United States
“DRT has been such an amazing experience. It has been invaluable for my riding as I have developed a much better seat, leg position and upper body position which used to be terrible (I can sit to some very naughty behaviour now!) I have learnt so much, about neutral spine, my own body and what I needed to work on. The program allows you to work on parts that are stiffer which was really great for me. Best of all the program was fun and easy to fit into a busy routine with only 20 min workouts. I would very highly recommend this program to all riders, especially dressage riders, or even those that struggle with pain and stiffness. Thanks Nicola!”
– Drisana Sheely, Tauranga, New Zealand
“I have really benefited from completing DRT1. At first it was a bit of a reality check as I’d always considered myself relatively supple (turns out I wasn’t!), but knew I was lacking core strength.
I’ve really noticed the benefits of doing the workouts. I feel more balanced in the saddle and able to complete exercises easier & my horses are happier for it too. Both are very sensitive Iberians and make it pretty clear if there is any tightness or tension anywhere.
Both my regular trainer and my other trainer who I see on regular clinics (he’s a senior rider at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna) have really noticed the difference, especially the latter, who saw me last at around week 8 of the programme & commented on how much my riding had improved (even by then), & how much this had improved my horse. The attached photo is from that last clinic. It will be interesting to see what he thinks on our next clinic at the end of August.
Looking forward to completing the Yoga retreat and then moving on to DRT2! Thank you for a great programme.”
– Nicola Hall, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
“Nicola, your program has helped me develop a much stronger and secure seat – and I’m in my 60s and have had both hips replaced! Thank you so much for gearing the exercises to all and being so encouraging. Looking forward to trying to keep up with you through DRT2!”
– Charna Watts, Texas, United States
“DRT1 has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself and my horse, “Hogan”. I am in my late fifties and took over riding my daughter’s 17 year old OTTB 3 years ago. I am generally a very active person, riding six days a week and walking my dogs 3-5 miles everyday. Riding has been a challenge for me in many ways. This old body is not as flexible or strong. Core strength in particular is so important. I felt that the training Nicola offered would benefit me and it has!! My core strength and flexibility especially through my hips has changed dramatically. Fitting her 20 minute sessions, three times a week is very doable. I have a very busy schedule often starting most days at 5:00 AM and not getting home until 8:00 PM and yet managed to complete DRT1. My riding in general has improved. I am an eventer and have found this program has helped not just my dressage but my jumping as well. I cannot wait to start DRT2??. Thank you Nicola for developing this program !!!!!! (Hogan thanks you too?).”
– Joyce MacDermott, Massachusetts, United States
“The programs that Nicola has created; both the DRT1 and DRT2 as well as a few of her other programs (CORE:30 and running programs), to aid the rider both on and off the horse has been more beneficial for me than words can ever begin to describe. Her attention to detail and targeting of muscle groups related to riding have helped my riding grow, build confidence and strength in the saddle and has helped address balance problems. She has opened my eyes to the importance of cross-training to help achieve goals as a rider. Whether the work is in the saddle, visualisation, or addressing the weaknesses of the body; as a show jumper who emphasises the importance of dressage in my training, these programs have benefited both me and my horses greatly. I recommend this program to anyone who is curious about growing their skills and strengths as a rider, it will open more doors and challenge you in ways that will only make the journey of dressage more enjoyable!”
– Kim Pickel – Nevada, United States
“The DRT2 program is definitely a step up from DRT1. The workouts were more challenging but also more rewarding resulting in greater strength building and flexibility. Because of the spring/ summer season in the US, I’ve put the second half of the program on hold until prime riding and competitions slow down- there are only so many hours in the day for a full time working / barn owner / rider! Thanks for providing these awesome programs!!”
Tammy Risseeuw – Wisconsin, United States
“I have found the program amazing. I am a biomechanics trainer and have found the selection of exercises and stretches really target the all the correct areas for riding. I think that DRT2 is not only beneficial for Dressage riders but anybody who wants to ride in a balanced and safe manner. My husband has really noticed the change in my body tone and says that I am generally looking a lot healthier. For me 20 mins 3 times a week is doable. In my own time and as often as I want without having to leave home. If I want to do it at 11.00pm at night or 6am in the morning it makes no difference. The program gives easy and harder options for you to choose from and if there are some exercises or stretches that are a little bit hard you can leave them out or build up to them . Thanks Nicola for a very balanced program that gives me some structure to exercise and work on the parts of my body required for riding.”
– Linda Brown – Tauranga, New Zealand
“Can’t say enough great things about DRT! Love the workouts and how they are divided to include: core, strength, and stretching. The length of workouts is very manageable in a busy day. There is always alternate exercises if degree of difficulty is not appropriate for you at this time.Riding homework is so applicable. Great improvements in my riding. Gabe( my horse) and I both thank you! Ready for more! Still haven’t conquered the swiss ball, but will truly feel a sense of accomplishment when I do! Bring on the next program.”
– Susan Kicklighter – Florida, United States
“Absolutely loved the DRT2 program! Found the focused exercises for the equestrian athlete to be invaluable and enjoyable. My personal trainer and horse trainer have both noticed an improvement in my fitness and riding ability. I’ve moved up a level, seen my dressage scores increase and my rider position & seat marks improve. Lastly, the time commitment is efficient and effective. Nicola knows biomechanics and how to optimize a workout for the best results for riders. Highly recommend this program for all dressage riders! “
– Blake Coyle – Nevada, United States
“I have just completed DRT1 and DRT2 I can’t wait for Nicola to pull together a DRT3. I started the journey with DRT1, which was great but DRT2 took my strength and flexibility to a new level. At 55, I feel fitter and stronger than ever before. But the best news is that the combination of my body work with DRT2 and my horse work with my dressage coach, has also taken my riding to a better place. Aside from the physical benefits, DRT2 is completely doable. I work full time, study, ride and operate a farm – and I had no trouble fitting the program in to my week. Just me, my laptop, swiss ball and weights in my office during work breaks. Thanks Nicola and I really hope there is as DRT3 before too long.”
Jo Brosnan – Killarney Qld, Australia
“Just been riding in Spain on a 5 day intensive dressage week . Thanks to your program and your gym website I was really fit with a strong core that gave me a really good independent seat.
Rode two horses . One was a huge Andalusian stallion (see photo) with huge movement. I was able to handle them and felt fit thru the whole week .
I took you with me on my laptop which was great as I either did yoga or core work thru the week . Keep the programs coming
– Donna Baker – Victoria, Australia
“The DRT and DRT2 Programs have made a welcome change to my riding. I had experienced hip pain and stiffness for many years and had seen photos of my riding where my legs and stirrups were uneven which concerned me. I had recently purchased a young horse and realised I needed to be more balanced, stronger and flexible if I was to get the best from her. While I had undertaken clinical pilates for a year and enjoyed some benefit I was drawn to the rider specific nature of DRT. I did have reservations about an at home program as I wasn’t sure how disciplined I would be exercising at home, but I needn’t have worried. Nicola is quite a rare find. Her tips and advice are timely and her enthusiasm is contagious. I feel like she is in the room with me with her timely corrections and encouragement. I look forward to our workouts “together”.
After completing DRT and the subsequent DRT2, I have more stamina, am significantly more toned and stronger, more supple and am more relaxed in the saddle than I have ever been. I am even in my stirrups and leg position and no longer point my toe out. I also have a greater awareness of my body and the muscles I use when riding. I truly believe this makes me a far better rider. I am so pleased that I found DRT and recommend it to all dressage riders irrespective of their level or fitness.”
– Joan O’Reilly – Victoria, Australia
“Having completed DRT1, I was looking forward to getting my hands on DRT2. It was as great as I wanted it to be. And again, it dramatically improved my riding. Multiple top trainers and knowledgable spectators have commented on the change in my body, my core and noticed the improvement in my ability to ride effectively. Amateurs like me need to really transition from being passengers to being active mebers of a team that only together can achieve their goals! Nicola you have given me some more of the tools to have a better partnership with my horse and to reach new heights in the sport I love so much. Thank you. Thank you for being part of my extended village in New Zealand. So, when are you rolling out DRT3?”
– Gardy Bloemers – Virginia, United States
“I am a 52 year old learner rider who realised that when I held myself better, I got a better response from my horse (a 15hh Connemara mare called Molly), so I set about improving my rider fitness. I came across the Dressage Rider Training program on Facebook, tried a couple of tester videos, liked what I saw, and signed up!
I have easily managed to complete the 12 week course, it is eminently do-able because the workouts are only 20 minutes 3 times a week and therefore easy to fit in. I think what makes this course really work though are the explanations that Nicola gives throughout, the plethora of resources online to further our knowledge, and, most importantly I feel, the relevant homework. Stretching and foam rolling and eventually Swiss ball work only take a few minutes and really complement the workouts. Probably what makes this course so effective though is the ridden homework, which was a significant factor in my improving ability as it was relevant, flexible, and progressed as my core strength, fitness and flexibility increased.
I have seen my confidence and ability on Molly improve more quickly than I think it would have with only riding lessons from my trainer. Friends at the yard where I keep her have commented on how much not only I have improved, but also on how much more relaxed and balanced and forward Molly is now. Dressage has not been Molly’s strength, she would much rather jump, so it is wonderful to see and feel her improving also. The course requires commitment but for me the motivation to carry on came from seeing improvements in my fitness and riding, and also hearing from others around the world via the Facebook group and online forum. In a nutshell, I would highly recommend this Dressage Rider Training course and plan to do more.”
– Caroline Blagbrough, Monmouthshire, United Kingdom
“Just finished week 12 today, pulling myself together and finishing of the program with one intense workout doing week 11 rider, + all three workouts of week 12. Probably won’t be able to walk the rest of the week! 😉
I absolutely LOVED the program! Absolutely perfect and just what i needed! So skillfully put together and built up, I’m amazed!
Thank you so much for these last 12 weeks! Can’t wait to get started on DRT2! 🙂
– Beate Tråsdahl, Bardufoss, Norway
“So here is the reason that I took DRT. At 57 years old, fairly large well I can now mount from the ground if I have to I prefer to mount from mounting block. Every now and again, my horse has a sideways movement. Now, I’m able to sit with no real difficulty. And because I want to continue getting better I’m really looking forward to doing the DRT2.”
– Allison Pell, Washington, United States
“Loved the programme. Met my goal of being able to sit trot and have much more control over horses movement through stronger core muscles and more balance. Great value for money. Can do at own place, pace and timing.”
– Vicki Wilson, Auckland, New Zealand
“Nicola, I have greatly benefited from your DRT1 program!! I hope to continue with your next program DRT2. Your asked for a picture of me and my horse in an earlier email. Here is a photo of me and Soloist aka “Brody” his barn name.
– Tina Sudduth, Alabama, United States
“Hi Nicola, thanks for a wonderful programme, I have loved DRT1 & can’t believe how much it has helped me. I’m a beginner rider so the core strength & balance I have gained has really helped me to make some incredible progress with my riding, but by far the biggest thing I’ve come away with is the confidence to give everything a go 🙂
Here’s a photo of Annie & I having great fun learning how to go on the bit! Well she know’s I’m the one learning! (both very grubby”
Nikki Griffith, Blenheim, New Zealand
“I love the program. It feels like I am working out with a friend – even my husband says ‘Hi, Nicola!’ in the mornings. I’m sure my riding is improving, simply because I am more aware of my body and its asymmetry. Also, one of my horses can spook, and a couple of times I think I probably should have been unseated, but have stayed in the saddle – that’s a real bonus, in my book!”
Jillian Staton, Vicotria, Australia
I have just completed DRT2 and can’t wait for Nicola to pull together a DRT3. I started the journey with DRT1, which was great but DRT2 took my strength and flexibility to a new level. At 55, I feel fitter and stronger than ever before. But the best news is that the combination of my body work with DRT2 and my horse work with my dressage coach, has also taken my riding to a better place. Aside from the physical benefits, DRT2 is completely doable. I work full time, study, ride and operate a farm – and I had no trouble fitting the program in to my week. Just me, my laptop, swiss ball and weights in my office during work breaks. Thanks Nicola and I really hope there is as DRT3 before too long.
– Jo Brosnan, Darwin, Australia
First of all thank you for an amazing program! My horse, Gabriella, has been diagnosed with keratitis of the eye and it has been a bit overwhelming. She is receiving wonderful medical care and thankfully we have been continuing our hard work in dressage. Your program has kept me positive and motivated, particularly the Yoga Retreat. We may or may not be able to get back to eventing, but we are very happy with our progress and work in dressage-largely thanks to you and your program. So looking forward to DRT2! Thank you
– Marianna Bernardi, Illinois, United States
Hello Nicola, Mercedes is a “rescue horse” which I adopted in November 2009, when she was two years of age, who has been working cooperatively with me ever since. She receives the benefit of my participation in your DRT programmes because, as I ride, the position pointers which you explain in your videos come to my mind, and by applying them during my riding I can improve my communication to my horses! I have enjoyed both DRT1 and 2.
I am fortunate to have received support from Nicola for the last couple of years which has had a large impact on my ability as a rider and a trainer. As dressage riders we are trying to make our horses use their body more correctly and evenly, and as they gradually become stronger we can add in more power and flexibility, with the aim that we have built up their body and mind gradually enough that they can physically and mentally handle the increases in difficulty, therefore having a positive affect on their body. This programme is almost like putting yourself in your horses shoes; you learn new exercises some of which may at first seem quite challenging, but they soon become easier as your body gradually builds up the required strength and flexibility. By following the programme you are able to take things at your own pace, but in an order which ensures you are prepared for the increases in difficulty. And because the programme is designed especially for riders you can be sure that everything you are working on has a very positive influence on your riding. One of the biggest benefits from this programme is gaining the ability to activate the correct part of your core when riding while remaining supple throughout your body. This allows you to independently use your aids which then makes it a lot easier for the horse to understand what you want, and for them to also use their bodies correctly. As well as the obvious physical benefits we gain as riders from doing this type of training, we also gain an understanding of what it is like to have someone push you to do things you sometimes find physically hard, so we can hopefully also be bit more understanding of some of the difficulties our horses may be going through in their training! I can highly recommend this programme to all types and levels of riders, whatever level you are currently at you will definitely notice a very positive difference in your riding.
– Kirsty Schist, Christchurch, New Zealand
“This program has made me stronger, and as a beginner rider more confident. Even today in my lesson the school horse Buddy I ride, decide that he was going to has mini spook, jumped at a runner he saw outside the arena, I didn’t freak out (would have when I started riding in April this year), and then later his canter got quite fast I could feel myself slipping to one side but I was able to stay on, gripped with lower legs and money grip, he then slowed to a trot and I was able to get correct position. This too would have freaked me out, it did a little, and Bec my coach made me do it again – including trotting over poles. This time much better. Bec has been so encouraging, as are the other coaches.
Thank you for a great program, I feel more secure in my seat, get on and dismount with more confidence and riding is improving. So much so that I have booked two riding holidays for next year, one with GlobeTrotters in Barossa SA, and other one in Ireland with Unicorn Trails. Think its fair to say riding has got hold of me. Thank you again.”
– Lynda Barne, Adelaide, South Australia
“Nicola, I am so thrilled I found your Dressage Rider Training program. After a break of about 30 years, I went back to riding three and half years ago. I was 53 and had recovered from 10+ years of fibromyalgia. Needless to say, my strength and fitness were not optimal.
About a year into riding again, I found DRT1 and signed up. I love the program. My strength, posture, and balance improved. My flexibility began to improve. I was able to ride longer, more comfortably. I signed up for DRT2 as soon as you made it available. I love it even more than DRT1. The impact of the program was noticeable to my coach within the first 4 weeks.
I had some lingering weakness and restricted mobility, particularly in my shoulder girdle, as a result of having fibromyalgia. By the time I finished DRT2, I could do upper and lower planks. The mobility in my shoulders had increased significantly. My aerobic fitness had improved significantly and my posture on the horse was much better.
Last winter, Yukon, the horse I part-boarded, and I, had a difficult time in the indoor arena. He got spooky and I fell off. A lot. So, I did DRT2 again. I added light weight and increased the intensity. I really focused on my core and I was able to ride through my challenges with Yukon.
I am still going through DRT2. Every time I finish, I start from the beginning, add more weight and challenge myself to do the exercises I couldn’t do previously. I am a member of your online gym. My plan is to add other workouts as time permits. I do yoga or a 20 minute workout every day. I ride 3 days a week. I use the on-horse homework to shape my practice rides. I hope to increase the amount I ride in 2018.
Thank you so much for creating these programs and putting all of the really top notch content online. You are, literally, on the other side of the world from Canada. I am so grateful to have “met” you and to be able to learn from you. When you do DRT3, sign me up!”
– Sharon Gilmour-Glover, Ontario Canada
“I loved the changes that I have seen in by balance, strength and riding while doing this training. I can’t wait for next show season.”
– Jennifer Zitting, Salt Lake City, Utah
“I joined DRT 1 about 10 weeks before my biggest show of the year. I had been planning all year to go to Florida with my horse for the Western Dressage Association of Florida’s championship show in November. I live in Vermont so this involved hauling my horse 1300 miles , coping with a drastic weather change and dealing with the added stress of such a big adventure. Because of your program, I felt stronger and more balanced and could feel the improvement in my horse because I was riding better. The trip went well, I continued the program (packed the Swiss ball!) and I was rewarded with the amateur level 2 overall championship.”
– Jerilyn Jacobs, Vermont, United States
“Hi! After almost 30 years without riding, I bought Quitage last year – and discovered that the self-esteem I had in the saddle was no longer there. After completing DRT1, my confidence has increased significantly and my physical strength and flexibility have been much better! I look forward to DRT2 :-)”
– Hege, Norway
“A huge thanks, and congratulations for your program. I have so much more freedom to move my body in the way I need to, and strength building up to be able to reach towards my goals. I have re-joined Adult Riding Club and am off to my first comp with them in 6 years next weekend!”
– Catherine Browning, New South Wales, Australia
“I can’t thank you enough for developing the DRT program! As an older rider I was struggling after taking over the ride on my daughter’s OTTB “Hogan”. The mind was willing but the body was not cooperating. My lack of fitness particularly core strength and flexibility was causing so much frustration. Since completing DRT 1 and DRT 2 I have improved dramatically! Hogan has a lot of suspension which made sitting his trot impossible for me before your program. My ability to now sit his trot is entirely due to DRT. I plan on continuing to revisit the workouts hoping that a DRT 3 will be in the future. Thank you so much for your encouraging videos and online support. Hogan thanks you too”
– Joyce MacDermott, Massachusetts, United States
“I love this program-it has helped me greatly both on and off my horse. I am a jumper rider (and sometime eventer) And I feel like my position has improved greatly and my 6 year old jumper has gained straightness, balance and confidence because I do a better job helping him. My chronic hip injury has improved a great deal and I feel much more even in the tack. I have recommended this program to many friends and I am going to repeat DRT 2 from the beginning. Even if I weren’t riding I would continue the program because I feel better. Thank you, Susan”
– Susan Runco, West Virginia, United States
“I returned to riding very late and wanted to improve my fitness and stamina and also my technique. The programme has helped me to understand about having a strong core and that less is more when it comes to being effective in the saddle. The programme has also made me more aware of the impact I have on the horses movement. I want us both to be a team and to enjoy our time together. I am still working through DRT1 but do intend to complete the programme.”
– Alison Boyle, Renfrewshire, United Kingdom
“The DRT program has helped me be more aware of how I am impacting the horse with my body, it has given me better balance and enabled me to sit “deeper” in the saddle.”
– Marian Morris, Troms, Norway
“Dear Nicola, I really recommend your DRT programmes. Although I have been a keen rider for a while I never really felt fit & admit to being too lazy to attend a gym. When I heard about your DRT 1 & the fact that it said Dressage Rider Training it encouraged me to join. I have just completed DRT 2 & really recommend both programmes. My riding has really improved & the strengthening of my core muscles has helped me enormously both on & out of the saddle. I intend to carry on the exercises & hopefully continue to improve which I feel also helps my horse as well. The attached photo is me competing on November 5th at a British Dressage event. Best regards, Amanda”
– Amanda Bere, Suffolk, United Kingdom
“Hi Nicola, DRT1 and DRT2 have been amazing, I have been carrying a shoulder injury for 9 years and a combination of the strength training and the Yoga have enabled me to regain the full motion of my arm and its now relatively pain free.
DRT1 and 2 have helped enormously with my seat and my riding, I have 2 horses and the youngster can be a challenge. I would highly recommend your programme for all to have a go at, combined with Yoga its fantastic.
– Karen Senior, Buckingham, United Kingdom
“Thank you for a great program. Your exercises were unique to me and very well explained. I got behind in the program but i loved the no stress appoach to continueing on at my pace. The homework session was the best! It got me riding comfortable without stirrups. My posture and balance improved. I was able to target my tight and tense areas, and change them.
Thank you for a great program.”
– Cindy Horrocks, New York, United States
“After 12 weeks on the DRT programme, I am convinced that what we do off our horses is crucial to being able to ride on the horse. Six months ago I had no muscle tone, a muffin top and limited core activation. NOW I have found my deep seat, I can ride with balance, and feel my horse’s movement. I believe this programme is a must for anyone doing any type of riding or simply wanting to feel great. Thanks DRT and Nicola!”
– Jenny Yule, Hastings, New Zealand
“As an older rider (age 51), I had underestimated how much my general stiffness and lack of mobility was affecting my riding my results. The stretching routines and homework assignments that are part of the DRT program have made a huge difference in my riding…..and now, not only can I actually pinpoint what part of my body is tight and the challenges it’s creating in the saddle, I have recommendations from DRT on how to create more flexibility in that part of my body. I definitely feel very different in the saddle after starting this program”
– Rosanna Malcolm, California, United States
“DRT has been great. It’s challenging at times but worth the effort. I’m very glad I purchased the program!”
– Holly Moyers, Kentucky, United States
“Loved the program. Love your Positive energy!!! You have a wonderful friendly manner about how you present things.
There is a great deal of very good stuff in the program! Very good stuff! Thank you for all your work on this program Nicola! Great idea and very much appreciated!”
– Dawn MacKinley, Prince Edward Island, Canada
“This pic was taken last week and my young gelding was great and our ride felt wonderful. I am just starting to take him out and about. There were a few young horse antics first time I took him out on a cross country equestrian centre, but I felt so confident to handle it because of DRT. I am looking a lot more fitter and athletic and feeling fantastic! My seat feels so much deeper. I am 61 years old and enjoying life
– Renate Nelson, Tasmania, Australia
“DRT enabled me to stay fit enough to catch a ride in two recent clinics while my horse is rehabbing–I have only ridden occasionally for the last three months. I am so looking forward to getting back on my horse, I am significantly more balanced in my own body and learning to ride with my spine in neutral has allowed much great freedom in my shoulders, hips, and upper legs.
I have attached pictures from the first clinic, one because it is a wonderful picture of my friend’s Lipizzaner mare and the other because it shows the most neutral spine I’ve every had. I sit in front of a computer all day for very long days and keeping my core and upper back in alignment and strong is a significant challenge. The DRT1 exercises were a great start, but I didn’t really start to see improvements until DRT2. Fitting it into 20 minutes was brilliant, I could almost always get myself to do 20 minutes of exercise at night.
Thank you for the fabulous program! I am going to start DRT2 again from the beginning while I wait for DRT3 🙂
– Jennifer Morris, California, United States
“I have now completed DRT1 & DRT2 and can’t recommend it enough for anyone wishing to improve their core strength, balance, and coordination. When I started DRT1 I wasn’t able to sit on the Swiss ball without toppling to one side let alone kneel on it with a 3kg dumbbell and move my arms – 6 months on and I can balance on the ball and swing my arms holding a weight! I especially loved the Yoga workouts and tried to do them at least 5 times a week.
Being someone who tends to hold their breathe when riding or when feeling stressed, the yoga workouts were a real treat and made me feel relaxed and refreshed afterward. At the start of DRT1 I also hadn’t done much non-stirrup work for fear of collapsing to one side and being dumped should my horse throw in a playful spook! Halfway through DRT2 I was confident enough to ditch the stirrups and was amazed at how still and balanced I felt in all 3 gaits! If you’re not sure whether DRT1 or DRT2 is for you then I would recommend you invest your time and money and give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.
– Sharon France, Stirling, United Kingdom
“Nicola, thank you so much for making this program available! I am a jumper rider with my current horse (show name Zen Rose, barn name Faith). I strongly believe that solid ground work and cross training for the rider are critical to jumping success and have always been willing to put time into both. Faith was injured last year so I have spent most of this year doing ground work with her to allow her injury to heal. The homework provided with this program along with the ground exercises for the rider were ideal for keeping our work from being routine and dull and challenged me to do more than the usual amount of no stirrup work. I found your explanations of how to position the body on the ground and on the horse to be the clearest I have experienced. I could tell quickly from Faith’s response when I “got it”. All of the rider exercises were ones I had done in various fitness programs but your selections ad explanations helped me better understand how they could affect my riding. My trainer is much happier with my flat work now. I look forward to continuing to use the videos to continue to improve my position, extending it to jumping as Faith recovers.”
– Christine McDade, North Wales, United States
“Hi Nicola, Thank you so much for providing these Dressage Rider Training 1 and 2 opportunities for us! I have loved the variety of exercises, and the changing emphases on core, yoga, and strength. I also love that all of it is designed to help us in the saddle! I also appreciate the different levels of intensity that we can use for many of the moves, to accommodate a wide range of capabilities and agility. Some of us aren’t in our 20’s anymore and aren’t quite as flexible as we once were, yet you keep everything positive and energized to keep us improving at whatever level we find ourselves, and whatever our goals! I would recommend these programs to anyone interested in improving their riding skills and their fitness! Thank you so much for offering these classes for us! I took up English riding for the first time at age 49… I definitely appreciate any and all opportunities to improve my strength and balance that I can find!”
– Ewann Berntson, Port Orchard, United States
“I enjoyed DRT2 as much as DRT1. Last 2 weeks of DRT2, finally I could knee on the balance ball and do the exercised!! That made me feel so happy and I felt a bit stronger. Well DRT2 finished now and I’m waiting for DRT3 but meanwhile I’m busy repeating DRT1 with advanced movement. AND I’m doing not 3 times a week but 6 times a week!! (well sometimes I can do only 10 minutes but still trying!) I do it because not only I feel a bit stronger when I’m sitting on a horse but also I feel so good after I finish the exercise! I want to be more stronger, flexible and balanced! Thank you very much.”
– Hiroko Ozaki, Itegem, Belgium
“Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for your amazing program and being your awesome self! I was struggling getting back to riding after a year off due to major abdominal surgery. Your program helped get me not only back on track physically but also helped with my headspace and lack of confidence. I do hunter/jumper and also compete in mounted archery competitions and this program was vital in getting me back up to snuff with both. My seat is more independent, my legs and core are stronger and I’m able to do things I wasn’t able to about 6 months ago. I’m looking forward to trying DRT 2.”
– Tyana Leberecht, Los Angeles, United States
“8 Months Post-Concussion, I failed 4 balance tests while at an appointment with my Functional Neurologist. After only 6 weeks of DRT1, not only did I pass those same tests, I exceeded standard norms! Nicola and Ben’s fitness program focuses on improving balance, flexibility and strength with detailed instruction on innovative exercises and stretches. The objective was to improve my riding skills, but the program improved my life!”
– Larissa Brown, Ontario, Canada
“Hi Nicola, Just letting you know what an amazing impact DRT has had on my body and my riding. I’ve just finished the three-months and am continuing Week 12 until I master that ball! I’ve been learning dressage for 18 months now and, being in my mid-fifties, struggled with balance due to poor core strength and flexibility due to lack of use. I currently am just starting to ride at Novice. At about halfway through I noticed a difference in my strength and balance when out at a Competition: being on a new horse at a new place had both of us a bit unsure. However, I found I was so much more confident as I could guide my horse around with my new-found balance. My trainer noticed the difference in my riding and can tell when I’ve done a session on the day of a lesson as she says my body looks switched on. My stirrups have gone down two holes and I can touch my toes. I also have a waistline again and am overall more toned. I have found it easy to fit 20mins in at least three times a week. Your program was exactly what I needed: quick, easy, transportable, guided, able to be done at anytime of the day or night, repeatable; in fact it gives me no excuse not to do it and it’s great having a timeline and your check-in emails. I really have been surprised by how seemingly little effort has made such noticeable changes. I recommend it to everyone I know.
Thank you Nicola.”
– Donna Levin, New South Wales, Australia
“Many thanks to Nicola Smith for creating this program! We all need help with maintaining our balance in the saddle-and this program was the ticket for me! I thought I was fit since I ride up to 4 horses a day professionally. The program refined my balance tremendously and I tell all of my clients about it. Cheers!”
– Melissa Morehouse, Pennsylvania, United States
“As a birthday present to myself I accessed DRT level 1 in May this year and began my journey of discovering my core and balance (well, lack of ). As soon as DRT 1 finished, I signed up for DRT 2 because I wanted to keep going with Nicola’s exercises. While going through DRT2, I bought myself a green 14hh gypsy cob cross and we’ve been schooling together in our makeshift arena ever since. When I do my exercises before I ride I know I am riding better that day. My core is switched on and I can communicate my aids more precisely, which helps my pony a lot:). One thing I really like about Nicola’s style of presentation is that she explains what we’re doing and why we’re doing it as we’re doing the exercise. I can hear her voice as I’m riding – strengthening my sides, keeping a still but dynamic seat. Today my pony and I did our first leg yields. I am so impressed with DRT 2. And I think my wee pony appreciates it too!”
– Ruth McManus, Canterbury, New Zealand
“I am quite strong in the core but those workouts remind me to activate those muscles more. I am determined to get more flexible so I can allow my horse to move more freely in dressage once my dressage is a bit better we can move up to 1* in the Autumn season. I love the variety and the flexibility of the workouts as been on the away a lot and have 3 day next week so schedule with daughters horses (she just 2nd in CIC1* at Rotorua on weekend. So all in all find the workouts achievable, varied and well presented. Really enjoy them and will be looking to do more next year.”
– Ingrid Herdson, Auckland, New Zealand
“Not to long ago when I began studying Dressage and began asking my horse for certain postures and yields with not-so-perfect responses, I realized I was not doing in my body what I was asking to do in his. I set out on a path to find a course that would teach me how to find relaxation, flexibility, strength, and balance in my body so that Dak and I could move in harmony.
I came across DRT 1 on Facebook and it sounded like the perfect course. Well. It turned out to be just that! Three 20-minute workouts weekly that address the areas of yoga, core, and strength was perfect for helping me meet my goals. The routines vary in exercises and intensity so I didn’t get bored doing the same exercises, they are specific to riding with explanations of how they apply to riding, and they are progressive so your improving without even realizing it until you reach the end and are doing exercises you never thought possible!
I highly recommend DRT1. It will change your riding in amazing ways and your horse will begin to move more freely underneath you because you have learned to get out of his way and move with him. Loved this course! I’m now a fitness fanatic and and the core of my motivation is becoming a better rider for Dak.”
– Jane Plough, North Carolina, United States
“I love the DRT2 program! I turned 47 this year and feel better than I have in a long time thanks to Nicola and her guidance. I truly believe that staying fit and active keeps us healthy and makes us better riders. The workouts focus on many areas that we need to be strong and balanced in the saddle. The “extras” that she provides with yoga, mediation, nutrition and inspiration help to remind me that even though my aspirations may not be to ride at the upper levels I am still an equestrian athlete and need to treat myself as such and to not let other areas of my life overshadow my passion. She really does take a holistic approach to health and wellness. As a busy mom of 3, I work full time and have 4 dogs and 3 horses. My time is limited on most days. The DRT1 and DRT2 workouts are designed to help me stay on track even on my busiest days as they are short enough that I can usually fit one in at some point. With everything being online I can make the workouts fit my schedule. Also, if I ever hit a road block Nicola is very accessible and responds quickly. If you are looking for a program to get you fit and give you that extra edge with your riding, this is it! Best of luck! Audrey and Fishy (pictured above)”
– Audrey snyder, Williamsburg, United States
“I highly recommend the DRT2 Program. Having completed DRT1, I confess I was sceptical as to how much more the DRT Program could deliver … but as I had found DRT1 really effective, I decided to give it a try. I was really impressed with the way the course continually challenged me, without overwhelming me. The formal course ‘finished’ a couple of weeks ago, however I am repeating Week 10 (again – until I am happy I have it ‘right’). Just this evening I successfully knelt on the Swiss Ball and ’wood chopped’ with a dumbbell! – I would never have believed I could do this when I started. The additional strength, balance, coordination and body awareness the DRT2 course has given me is worth every cent – and every groan J And importantly, it has translated into enhanced confidence both in and out of the saddle. Thank you Nicola – I wish you continued success and if there is a DRT3, I’ll be signing up!”
– Sarah Baldwin, Perth, Australia
“I love this program for so many reasons. It was always available at my convenience and the instructor is enjoyable to “be” with – encouraging, intelligent, knowledgeable, funny and very real. Not getting up set when the dog or horse chooses to walk on her set is so engaging.My riding as improved significantly. More balance and stability and all the wonderful things that does for my horse. Yesterday my hand grazed my belly and i had to do a double check. No more jelly! I’m not saying it can’t improve, but I was surprised at how much my muscle tone had changed.Because I wanted even more I also did the Boot Camp. Fabulous. I just wish I didn’t have to wait for them to start again. Thank you!
– Gwen Tietz, Bozeman, United States
“I am thrilled to have completed DRT1 + DRT2. Jeeves is going through many positive changes at the moment & my trainer tells me that we are on the brink of everything clicking into place like dominoes flipping. So I am really looking forward to that. That said we have made huge strides forward since starting DRT 1 & completing DRT 2. My confidence has increased hugely & therefore his too. This is because the courses have provided me with the balance & strength & understanding of the importance of presence whilst riding. I am doing things with Jeeves that I would never have been brave enough to do 6 months ago. I am no longer worried if he spooks I can deal with it. If he tried it on which he does at times I can deal with it. We have become one after 3 & 1/2 years of owning him. He arrived with me as a rising 5 year old, he is 16 hands, I am only 5ft 4ins, the wrong side of 50 on under 9 stone. It has been a bumpy road at times but the DRT courses have been our saviour, thank you so much Nicola.
I have decided that I will repeat DRT 2 & have started again already. This is because during most of the course my Mum was in hospital which has meant that I have been short of time & sleep & therefore feel I may not have got as much from DRT 2 as perhaps I might have done otherwise. So I am really looking forward to my onward journey with DRT2 & looking forward to reaping yet more results from re-doing the course. Keep riding & keep calm. ??
All the best to all those who decide to do the course it is SO worth it.”
– Fiona Del Giudice, East Sussex, United States
“The enjoy factor was high and the effort factor depended on the day. After having completed both DRT ! and 2 I slacked off entirely for a few months…no riding, no morning exercise which, naturally, resulted in softer core and less energy. I am now starting DRT again, going more slowly and doing each section twice before moving on. I am amazed at the depth of the programme that I completely missed during the first time I went through. Congratulations for developing such a seemingly simple but highly challenging programme. I am now more fit and flexible, have better balance and now rarely lose my left stirrup and tip off the right. Horse travels better too. Unfortunately, this isn’t the fountain of youth but as an older rider I am much more able than I was. Thank you so much from both horse and me.
Henry Groman, Maine, United States
“The DRT program has greatly enhanced my fitness as a rider and has enabled me to show my big horse off to his best advantage. I recommend this program to all of my students as Nicola does a great job of explaining rider biomechanics through out her workouts making them relevant to our sport.”
– Cynthia Hall, Houston, United States
DRT1 and DRT2 are fantastic programs designed especially for horse lovers! My riding has improved and the credit goes to both programs because each session was a building block and I was able to improve each time! I believe Nicola has done a stellar job in designing, developing and demonstrating each class for us! She is brilliant utilizing her horse knowledge with her education and love of exercise. As a result, I do have a stronger core. All thanks to Nicola’s genius in producing both programs, DRT1 and DRT2! I have become stronger, more flexible and confident in my position and in my riding abilities. Best part of all, my horse partner recognizes my efforts and appreciates it!
If I can do it than you can too! I promise you that your joy and love for riding will blossom even more!!
– Shelley Mitchell, Virginia, United States
“I have finally finished DRT 1 and all I can say is ‘Wow!’ it’s fantastic.I am 61 years old, have had both my hips replaced and have owned horses most my life with a special interest in dressage. This programme has made me feel 20. I don’t think my balance has ever been better. I am so much stronger, more supple and confident. I can feel how much more relaxed I am and that horrible twist I have in my seat, which makes me sit unevenly, has almost gone completely.
Unfortunately my horse was out of action for quite a lot of the programme and that’s why I’m just feeling the benefits to my riding now. How often do you find your riding has actually improved when you haven’t even been riding!! But because of this I’m going to go back and repeat from week 5 again, this time with the ridden exercises and sitting trot. I will definitely be looking to do DRT2 when my horse and I are fully up to par.”
– Amanda Deehan, Cheshire, United Kingdom
“I was first attracted to DRT as the exercises I saw advertised were many of the same exercises I was doing at physio for a lumbar compression fracture. At the time I had only started the physio because I woke up one day and just decided I was sick of being in constant pain, and it was starting to put me off riding, so DRT looked like it had the potential to help me recover my mobility.
At the time I was also suddenly noticing how many of my friends that I rode with in my teens, twenties and thirties were no longer riding. I noticed how many were dropping off through bad falls and injury. I thought many of them looked fit, and I thought that I was fit! I wasn’t hugely fat, but sure I’m a solid unit and always have been. I have six horses (four in work) and a rural holding to look after, so I’m always lifting hay bales, picking up manure, fixing fences and chopping wood. I’m a mother and wife so cook, clean etc. Oh, and I work full time in an executive role, with lots of air and ground travel to meetings around the country, and lots of desk time (although I do have a standing desk).
Boy was I wrong about my fitness. DRT has not only improved my stability when things go awry in the saddle, but my endurance is improved exponentially, and um, well, this is embarrassing but no longer worry if I laugh or sneeze with a full bladder. Not only do I go home after a weekend show jumping still feeling bright, but I managed seven days at Horse of the Year show, with three horses stabled 500 meters away from our truck (i.e. its a lot of walking!) and came home not feeling like I needed another week off to recover. And jumped big tracks every day for five days.
To anyone who thinks it is just for dressage riders and happy hackers, then think again. Yes at first the focus on long dressage legs may seem unhelpful, but stick with it and you will be more than ready for a George Morris no stirrups session. And don’t be put off because some part or other of you is broken. Two bad knees, tennis elbow, a lumbar compression fracture and two separate cervical fractures and I’ve clocked up 28 consecutive weeks.
I achieved my personal best last week, no ribbons but I did what I never thought would be possible by riding the biggest, most complicated technical track of my life on the most difficult horse I have ever owned. A couple of rails sure, but I nailed every turn and every related line and the treble combination. I was only able to achieve that because I was my best self, physically and mentally, and I wouldn’t have got there without DRT. I am now addicted to this programme, so there needs to be a DRT3 before I get bored with repeating DRT1 and DRT2.”
– Philippa Fourie, Mangatawhiri, New Zealand
“I just wanted to say thank you and tell you how your program has helped me. I tried lots of programs before DRT, but none of them were specifically for equestrians and they didn’t make that much of a difference in my riding. The 2 months leading up to DRT I was riding a Grand Prix schoolmaster competing in the Children’s FEI in Wellington, FL. I had trouble sitting the trot at times, I was having a hard time keeping my shoulders back and chest open, and my lower leg would either flop or brace. I was only in Wellington for 8 weeks and I started DRT the week before I left. When I got back home there weren’t any horses for me to ride. My trainer goes to Wellington for 6 months and does’t return to her farm in VT until May, so there are several months where I only ride a couple times a month. I was doing all the workouts, but hadn’t been able see all the work benefit my riding until last week. I was shocked at the huge improvement in my riding. Sitting the trot was actually easy and the trainer only had to remind me once to keep my shoulders back! I was so much more balanced and elastic. It was so much easier to keep the horse balanced, because I wasn’t loosing my balance. When doing the flying changes I stayed centered and my aids were quiet! I am so thrilled with the progress!
Thank you so much Nicola! I can’t wait for DRT 2!”
– Eden Smith
“Hello from Belgium. I have the chance to be a bit back and starting week 11! Not yet the end! At the age of 47, I had never felt the need so far to do some workout to improve my fitness. Than I had some back pains that made me think about how I was aging. We are only at the half of our live! I made some researches on youtube to find some yoga for riders after reading an article about a french professionnal rider of 62′ that said that he was even fitter than in his 40′ after beginning yoga and changing what he ate (I may link the article below for french speakers if you want?). I must say that Nicola’s programs have changed my life. I was working out for riding but finally working out will stay for all my life and I realised how the body may change and improve with not so much efforts. I don’t have back issues anymore. I realised how a healthy body (as I didn’t had the feeling to be so down) can improve the mind and help to be more positive in your day life. Maybe it is obvious for a lot of people but I only experienced this thanks to DRT and DRT2. I am so happy I met you Nicola Smith!You changed my life😗I also need to thank the DRT community that is so kind and supportive.How could I imagine from Belgium doing a gym program from New Zealand with people from the entire world! When can we meet in NZ?😄”
– Isabelle Fabry, Namur, Belgium
“Dear Nicola, I joined the DRT1 programme as I was always being told by my instructor that I needed more leg strength. The programme has given me so much more than that! The routines are just the right length and fit seamlessly into my week. I have gained core strength and generally feel fitter. My riding has improved beyond belief and I am sure my beautiful horse Max has gained from it too as I am more balanced in my seat. The sessions build in difficulty at just the right pace and continue to challenge me. I have enjoyed the whole experience and whilst the riding homework has been difficult due to the awful weather we’ve had I will make sure that I continue with over the coming months. I am certain that I am a better rider now than when I started and will definitely be signing up for DRT2.”
– Amanda Parkinson, Lancaster, England
Hi Nicola, I have really enjoyed the DRT program, I managed to complete it and keep up, which was a real surprise to me, having had a hip replacement 3 years ago, and so my flexibility is not so great! I’ve been suprised with my strength and stamina, and feel that I’m much better connected to my horse now, despite not being able to do very much of the sitting trot work, which is still a bit painful, but working on it! I also managed to lose 15kg in the 12 weeks, as I changed my diet as well at the same time, so feeling like a different person now!
I intend to do the whole 12 weeks again, just to cement it all into place, and see how I have changed since the first round. I really needed DRT, as I have a young horse that I’ll be beginning to ride in the near future, and really needed to improve my core strength for that, as he has a big movement! My horse Freeway and I are developing a much better partnership now that I’m not collapsing all over him, so he sends his thanks too!
– Ngaire Fisher, Whangarei.
“Dear Nicola, I have really enjoyed the DRT2 program. I have found the 20 minute workout great to fit into a busy schedule and have been surprised by how much my strength, flexibility and balance have improved over the 12 weeks. I feel more secure in the saddle when riding my big moving Warmblood and quick moving TB and feel motivated to keep improving my fitness to be a better rider for my horses. Thanks so much for a great program – I’m looking forward to DRT3!”
– Stephanie Abbott, New South Wales, Australia
“Nicola, I will wholeheartedly promote your program to all. I have benefitted greatly from it. The photo I will forward to you I have full rights copyrights, it is from my ride at the WDAA Worlds.”
– Adelaide Pickett, Florida, USA
“Thank you Nicola for offering this great training program for us dressage riders, though I think it would benefit anyone wanting to get fit and more supply.
I have to admit when I first saw it I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend the money as I hadn’t heard of DRT before . However , I was in both a physical and mental slump after loosing two of my best friends and my older dog in december. I needed something to get me back into shape and ready for showing again so decided to give it a go. When I first started your course I was so pleasantly surprised that apart from the physical training you also offer so many calming tips too. I didn’t always find it easy,( I’m in my 50’s), but I enjoyed the variety of exercises and yoga and it felt good when gradually I realized I was getting stronger and fitter. Then there is the wonderful healthy recipes and I loved the video of your talk at the NZ Dressage symposium which was very inspirational and started me to really think about the food I was eating. I really like your holistic approach on fitness and riding.
Since starting your course I am now both physically and mentally in a better place , have lost weight and ready to show my 6 yr old Hanoverian gelding in 2 weeks time.
I would and have already recommended your course to friends and anyone wanting to get back in shape and improve their riding at the same time. and I am looking forward to continuing your online series. Photo is of myself and my horse Leonidas. Thank you.”
– Kathryn Saunders, North Carolina, USA
“Yes I loved the dressage rider training program. Even after a few sessions, I noticed my balance and strength improved in the saddle. The biggest ‘hurrah’ was when my trainer asked after just a couple weeks what I had been doing differently!! As she noticed my core and balance strength improved — I am glad I bought the USB as well so I can repeat these exercises often!”
Melissa Bailey, Oregon City, USA
“I’m a 53 yr old rider who has been riding for 12 yrs. My horse is an 18 yr old Cheval Canadian gelding (a rare breed). He has owned me for 10 yrs. I took two years off from riding, so my daughter could train and compete toward earning her USDF bronze medal. Now that she is off to college, its My Turn! I was feeling frustrated in my riding. I wasn’t putting in enough time in the saddle and wasn’t having the successes I was hoping to have. I joined a gym, worked with personal fitness trainers, only to find neither was helpful with improving my riding.
When I learning about DRT on Facebook, I was impressed to find a work-out program that is suited for the dressage rider. The DRT workouts are broken out into perfect segments Core, Yoga and Fitness. The lengths are manageable for fitting into a busy schedule, and best of all you can do them at home! I like that there was always an alternate method of doing an exercises, if one was too difficult at the time. After many years, at the same barn, working with the same trainer, I packed up and moved my horse in February to a new barn, and got a new trainer. I’m putting lots of time in the saddle now. I ride every week day morning, and making small improvements each week. Having ‘eyes on the ground’, my new trainer has been crucial in correcting my seat, position and my building confidence in the extended canter, which is my biggest fear. Boy, is it ever hard to bring a freight-train extended canter, down the long side, to a working canter 15 meter circle without going Splat and breaking gait!! I will be competing in my first rated show in May. My biggest fear will be stage fright. I may have to knock back a strong martini before I enter at A and halt at X.Thank you Nicola for creating a wonderful program.”
– Pam Tenaglia, Massachusetts, United States
I am 110% pleased with the DRT1 program…. and plan to continue on to DRT2 at a later date. I am very impressed with the variety, challenge, balance, rider relevance and progression of exercises offered in each week of DRT1… not to mention the motivation and encouragement provided in your weekly emails as well as in your FB posts. THANK YOU, Nicola… yours is the absolute BEST fitness program I’ve ever participated in👍👍👍
– Gayle Nemeth, Yellow Creek, Canada
Hi Nicola, I am loving this program!! Attached is a picture of my horse Chevy and myself from yesterday. We competed in the flat division at a series of hunter schooling shows over the winter and ended up Circuit Champion. He is young and I have been doing all the training myself and this program has been wonderful for improving my balance and feel. As a 54 year old rider who spends my days in front of a computer, this program is exactly what I needed to counter all that sitting. I love the fact that I can download the videos and do them from anywhere. I travel a great deal for work and have been able to do the workouts in my hotel room. I will definitely sign up for DRT2 when available and will continue on with the program. Currently I am just starting week 9 due to work and an injury and that is the other thing I love about this program. I can do it at the pace that works for me and still see improvements with my riding!
Tammy Burrowes, Ilderton, Canada
As an over-60’er who came back to riding after a 40-year absence which included years and years of hamstring- and hip-tightening running, I can attest that DRT has helped loosened things up as well as make me more aware of body position and core effectiveness. There is a difference between being personally-fit and rider-fit! The 20-minute segments are easy to fit into busy schedules. Plus, I love the fact that the program is shot outdoors with charming interruptions and occasional goofs that make it more friendly and real. I purchased the USB version so that I don’t have to worry about my internet connection and can go back again and again for the weeks I really liked or found challenging. Thank you Nicole! (pictured with her Lipizzan mare Octavia)
– Heidi Humphrey, Shaftsbury, Vermont, USA
“The DRT program is one of the best things I have signed up for. Ive been looking for a positive progressive & fun rider training program for years. I am so glad I found you Nicola! Spending 3 x 20 minute sessions with you each week has transformed my body. I am stronger, more physically aware & capable, less aches & pains but more importantly my riding has improved. I study Parelli natural horsemanship but took up dressage last year to improve my riding in preparation for my Parelli Level 4 auditions. With your help I am confident my horses and I will achieve this beautiful goal. Thank you”
– Katrina Kelly
Hi Nicola, Congratulations on putting together a rider fitness program that is for EVERYONE – all fitness levels, all ages, all riding levels. I am in my late 40s and have been riding since I was 7, but I have never felt as stable, confident and strong as I do now. It took me a few months to take the plunge and sign up, but I could not be happier that I did. I have decided to repeat phase 2 of DRT because my horse has been injured for several weeks now. However, I have been able to maintain my strength and fitness off the horse and will be ready to get back to it when he is sound again. This has never happened before! In the past, BOTH of us would have had to start all over again. With DRT, I know when it’s time to get back on, he may be fresh and spooky, but I will be centred, strong and fit – ready for it if the ‘horse eating monsters’ strike. I have never stuck to a fitness program as I have to DRT. I am so grateful for your gentle, relatable and realistic approach to rider fitness. I love that it’s real and that sometimes your horses and puppies want to do the workouts with us! I will continue to repeat workouts as much as I need to and then move on to DRT2 later on this year. Thank you again for being there with me in my lounge room each morning to help me realise that I actually can do this!
– Michelle Parker, Halls Head, Western Australia
“Hi Nicola, I really enjoyed this 12 weeks program and I will suggest it to everybody who wants to improve their core strength. I finaly understood what means to be in balance with the horse. I am happy and I see how happy my horse is whilst feeling how do I improve my riding. This course was great. Thank you Nicola!”
– Daiva Masaityte, Kaunas, Lithuania
“The DRT training program is amazing! As with most people, my biggest issue is time. Becoming a better rider means more time in the saddle, attending clinics, taking lessons, reading books, watching youtube and most importantly getting your body conditioned for riding. However, I always felt working out was taking away from the time I had to learn more about riding. This program is without a doubt the most beneficial thing I have done for my riding. To begin with, listening to Nicola and her suggestions both calm me and give me focus for my riding goals on any given day. I love the format and that there are three different focus areas for each week. Nicola does a wonderful job at explaining the movements and benefits so they transfer immediately over to your riding. I can also choose a specific workout depending on my day. If I am riding 2-3 horses that day, I will I complete a Yoga Strength workout to make sure I am nice and relaxed for my horses. From this example, you can see that there is some flexibility within the program to suit specific riding needs. I really could go on forever about the benefits of this program. What I can say, is I’m gearing up for the DRT2 program and if your reading this, I highly recommend you try this fabulous 12 week program. You will see the changes in your riding immediately.
– Marci Taylor, San Antonio, United States
Hi Nicola, I just completed your program and the end of the 12 weeks coincided with me attending a clinic at the Queensland State Equestrian Centre for 3 days under instruction from Grand Prix Level Dressage Instructors. Over 12 weeks, my posture and riding improved, my confidence was boosted and I lost 7kg as an added bonus. I am 55 years old and want to be riding for as long as possible. I feel the best I have felt for years and I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking to improve their riding and to stay fit to ride.
– Deb Punch, Queensland, Australia
“Absolutely loved both DRT 1 and DRT 2. The three, 20-minute weekly workouts were perfect for my busy schedule. I am 60 years old and had a hip replacement several years ago. The program has helped my overall strength and flexibility. Most impressive is the change in my core strength which has really helped my position. Hope there is a DRT 3 coming soon and In the meantime, I will be repeating DRT2!”
– Susan Weiss, Kentucky, United States
“Excellent programme, really impressed how it targeted all the areas that needed a great deal of attention! Core stability and strength work I had done before and appreciated the value of (and had even on occasion mastered) but I had not considered suppling for humans as an essential requirement. I very much enjoyed the yoga routines, they really helped open up my hips, release tightness in my back and by relaxing, deepen my seat. I also really enjoyed the mindfulness side of things, a useful life tool all around. With very many thanks from an ageing human and arthritic mare hoping to keep our adrenalin and fun levels up for many years to come, I am sure your course has helped!”
– Pamela Mortimer, London, United Kingdom
“After finishing DRT1 I am pleasantly surprised at how I have been able to do all the exercises. I feel stronger, more balanced and fitter and my horse is definitely noticing the change! At my age(60) I need to work more consciously at staying fit and this program is ideal. I love all the aspects, core, strength and yoga and the way it blends in with riding. The only thing I haven’t mastered is balancing on the Swiss ball. I can do a few seconds on all fours but I’m not sure if I’ll ever be kneeling on the ball. I will keep persevering because it is so much fun!”
– Marja Jarvis, Cudgewa Vic Australia
“Your workouts were exactly what I needed to get back into activity. It was the perfect 12 weeks to build myself back up, and I enjoyed every single workout…so thank you. From a professional standpoint (I’m a Certified Athletic Trainer) I liked your exercise selection and thought they were appropriate to what you were trying to achieve for your riders. I think your progression was very well planned, and each exercise was geared towards moving into the next level. I am very much interested in DRT2, although I may wait a few months just to save up for it.” Thank you again…I’ve saved every workout and look forward to continuing the workouts and really getting into the homework. We’ll be chatting again when I’m ready for DRT2!”
– Christina Coxe, Nazareth, Pennsylvania, United States
“The DRT program is fabulous for any rider at any level. It has helped me to target certain muscle groups and hone in on areas where I am weak. It has also helped me to develop the ever elusive “feel” my trainer always talks about. Not only do I feel good but my horse does as well. He is my “mirror” after all. I will definitely recommend this program to other riders and continue with my own program for the future.”
– Caitlin Gallagher, Pennsylvania, United States
“I am a 64 year old competitive barrel racer. Mother of 4 and grandmother to 8 boys! Fortunately for me they all live around me and we have great fun riding, swimming and playing all sorts of sports! Five years ago I suffered two head injuries falling from horses resulting in severe concussions. They left me with poor balance , dizziness and poor physical condition due to a 6 month layoff of anything jarring. Fortunately for me I was still able to ride after 3 months be it all very quietly.
It has taken me this long to attempt any sort of workout program and when a friend posted it on FB I decided this was just the thing for me. Having completed your first program of DRT I can`t wait for the 2nd one. Your program was easy to follow and short and sweet! 20 minutes was easy to fit into the day somewhere. I loved the stretching exercises afterward and the encouraging videos! I live in rainy BC Canada where it is just starting to be spring now so I loved watching you outside in the sun! I did most of my workouts outside in my porch because fancy equipment wasn`t necessary!
I am happy to report that my riding has returned to its previous level and the paychecks are a strong indication of that! I have found the holes in my fitness l and hope to soon have mastered the kneeling on the swiss ball while performing the arm exercises, Right now I am only good for a few. Balance is key for both that and riding so thank you for introducing me to those moves. While waiting for the next lot of exercises I am making good use of the online gym doing strength , core and yoga. Thank you for the wonderful website and programs. Both you and Ben are inspiring and kind with your encouragement! Looking forward to the next phase!”
– Cindy Mussell, British Columbia, Cananda
“Hi Nicola, thank you very much for creating and sharing the DRT program with the equestrian world – horses and humans! I am one of those people who tries too hard to make things happen, which causes tension in myself and my horse. After twelve weeks in your program, I am able to release the tension after using my muscles, so I am doing much less, and my movements have become much more subtle and relaxed. My horse can finally “hear” my aides and has become much relaxed and responsive. I have a long way to go as a rider, but I am “listening” more and struggling less – and so is my horse. The program is really well designed. It’s broken into very achievable segments that build on each other with stretching and riding homework that is easy to build into the day. I love the length of the workouts, the variety of movements, the focus on muscles we use in riding, and the very genuine way in which the videos are presented. I look forward to my workouts with you! Thank you! I can’t wait for DRT 2.
P.S. I am an eventer – but we can’t win events without awesome dressage scores!”
– Karlene French, Minnesota, United States
“Dear Nicola, thankyou for putting such a great program together to help me become a better, confident rider.
I loved DRT2 it really complimented DRT 1. I really feel my posture has improved in this program. When I started DRT1, you gave what I needed at the time. Such as stretching out my hip flexors, abductors and piriformis. With DRT2, I could feel the benefits of my increased strength, to help accomplish those challenging moves. Thankyou for being there too, when I had questions, that helped, and encouraged me. I do get comments now what a lovely rider I am now. This helps me build my self-esteem, as I only started riding a few years ago, and used to grip, and ride in a chair seat. And was very self conscious.I hope to start riding dressage tests, as we progress. Thanks for mindset too, as it helps me build confidence. Thanks again Nicola 💕Oh and thanks for option of USB stick too, couldn’t do without it.”
– Renate Nelson, Tasmania, Australia
“I took up DRT shortly after realising that I had become an owner of a very capable horse. My riding was less mediocre, far less. I had taken up riding a couple of years earlier for the first time after teenage. DRT was appealing as it promised results in relatively short time and with minimum effort. I had a bit of a history of several sports and power training, which all seemed too much of since life interfered. Now I was 51 years, my physical condition had deteriorated close to nothing and I had no energy to even think about committing an hour at a time at the gym, plus change of clothes, shower and all that.
My goal was to make life easier for my gentleman of a horse, who soon enough had learned to take advance of my poor riding and really showed me my true skills. Regardless, I had a secret wish to be able to jump properly and even attend a show or two someday. I began as a mere passenger on a horse who could have done a smaller show on his own.
Off I went with DRT. Starting with easy stuff and progressing slyly to the level where you suddenly realise your core actually holds something, your legs are getting more even with strength and you can actually balance on a swiss ball. All this with 20 min passes three times a week for some 12 weeks.
Then came the day I got a new trainer. A guy who has been working on young horses preparing them for competitions. As he did not know us we started off with some 70-80 cm fences. This was already at my top height. He was very pleased to see us jump. And he kept adding height and technicality. We ended up jumping 100-110 cm fences in several different compositions. My horse was flying with enthusiasm. I managed to keep up with him, even at the biggest fences where he took some extra air underneath, and my trainer kept saying how pleased he was. I was astonished to realise he was actually responding to my seat better, and I could keep my posture and legs more still than ever before. Little did the trainer know that I had gone way past my comfort zone!
I’m so happy I came across this program which has given a great rhythm in working out and noticeable results. I still have a lot of work to do, but never have I been riding with so much ease and confidence than after these 12 weeks.”
– Annukka Mickelsson, Helsinki, Finland
“Hi Nicola, I really enjoyed the DRT program, and I am thrilled with the results. My seat, balance, core strength, and flexibility have all benefitted significantly, and both my coach and my horse, Murphy, have noticed the improvements!
The 20 min videos are easy to fit into the daily routine and are challenging without being overwhelming. I especially enjoy the unscripted visits from Nicola’s horse and dog! I have recommended the program to all my rider friends! Thanks, Nicola, for providing such a fun, positive, and effective program! Murphy and I are both looking forward to DRT2!”
– Susan Pyke, New Brunswick, Canada
“I am really pleased with myself for having signed up for DRT!! This program has helped me so much to improve my seat and core. My partner is a big powerful KWPN, he can be quite spooky, but I can now stay on him without loosing my balance most of the time:-) Also, had difficulties doing 4 tempi changes but after having finished this wonderful program, we are doing 2 tempi changes without any problem!! Thank you very much for having created such a fabulous program Nicola!!”
– Takako Fujino, Hyogo, Japan
“I was and still am very much interessted in everything about the seat at riding. Because I deeply belief that with a correct seat your horse will work correctly under you almost by itself. I tested a lot of different thing – like Franklin Balls, different teachers, different books and different methods. In each sequence I learnt something no doubt. But it was never the big breakthrough.
In 2016 I had a disc prolapse and couldn’t ride for a while although I just bought my first own horse. Actually I already wanted to start your program in 2017. But I knew I had to take it step by step and very slowly to build up again. So I didn’t join. But this year I felt already strong enough and I knew that I had to do something different to meet the big movements of my horse if I wouldn’t get another prolapse. So I started the DRT 1. And with each week I just could feel the difference that the program brought to me and my riding. I got stronger, more flexible, more connected – I don’t know. But the biggest surprise was the ultimate response of my horse to each improvement that I made. After completing DRT 1 I can do sitting trot despite his big movements. I can canter in a very nice and round way. He listens to me and may aids. And all the people around me see the big progress my horse has done over the last couple of weeks. And this is due to you, Nicola, and your program!! Thank you very much for all!! And I am really excited about to see what kind of changes the DRT 2 will bring to me and my horse!”
Ricarda Giebel, Zürich, Switzerland
“I absolutely love the program & have at least 2 friends starting in May. I think 1 of my students will be taking it too & possibly another friend who had purchased it but never started. I have almost completed week 8 (late start & repeated 1-2) & I definitely want to do DRT2 but I think I need to redo 5-8 I have been amazed at some of the exercises that I didn’t think I could do but I even did the hardest version but I do have some limitations (knees) I am 70 years young & have goals I want to achieve. You are definitely putting me on the right path. If there is anyone out there who thinks they are too old to do your program, they are WRONG! I don’t want to miss out on DRT2 but am afraid I will be starting it too late. I don’t want to stop! I plan on continuing to promote your program to all my friends, students, acquaintances, etc. You are providing a very important service to the dressage community at large & in a very fun & personable manner. I loved the ending on week 8 yoga! Thank you!! Hope there is a DRT3 in the works.”
– Susan Mitchell
“Hi Nicola, Just wanted to send you a big THANK YOU for designing such an easy programme to follow that really gets results. I like the short format workouts which you can fit into your schedule at any time. I have found the stretching part of DRT particularly helpful as riding and working on a dairy farm tends to make everything quite tight and it is great to have a collection of stretches to loosen me up. I am now 27 weeks pregnant and credit DRT with allowing me to continue riding competitively, even stepping up to NZ Level 3 with a young horse and doing all of the sitting trot. My midwife cannot believe how active and supple I am! Although I can’t do a lot of the full workouts at the moment I still piece together parts of the workouts I can do to keep me loose and balanced. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in to DRT 2 once I have my baby to help get my body back where it needs to be.
– Becky Corlett
“I’m not a horse owner, but DRT has helped me make the most of precious weekly school lessons. I’ve enjoyed everything about it. It’s improved my balance, co-ordination, control, strength, position, stamina, independent seat, rising trot mechanism, even getting on and off(!). I’m much more aware of how different parts of my body influence the horse. It’s changed my attitude and I now see myself as an athlete. After a long gap I had returned to riding a few months ago. Dismayed at how puffed and unbalanced I was and how little flexibility I had in my hips, I signed up for DRT1. Since then I’ve ridden 5 different horses – 6 including a dressage simulator – with four wonderful teachers, read books, watched videos and masterclasses, patted Valegro, done my first dressage test and worked through DRT. Biggest surprise came in week 6 when I looked in a mirror and could actually see core muscles developing – but I’ll spare you a photo. Biggest weakness for me is hip flexibility. DRT gave me targeted exercises which I can carry on with. I have never found an exercise class that I liked, but I really enjoyed my 20 minutes up in the loft with Nicola in the NZ sunshine. Often the workouts coincided with what I’d been working on in my lessons. Every exercise had a relevant purpose. The encouragement from Nicola and the online DRT community has been outstanding. In my professional life, for 25 years I’ve designed and run workshops and distance learning courses. I’d have been proud to design DRT. Nicola, huge thanks to you.”
– Susan Jones
“I would describe myself as a cautious rider, not as confident as i would like to be. recreational rider tho i love clinics and lessons. did my first dressage show last year in intro. enjoyed and noted what i needed to improve. and that is why i signed on for this on line program. bella and i don’t go over fences much anymore, she is a 20 yr old arab/tb c ross and i am approaching my mid 60’s. this program has given me the tools to better balance, isolate and confidently make mistakes in my riding! i will be signing up for drt 2 and will also take advantage of the yoga programs offered. Nicola smith has put together a comprehensive program that will complement any and all training one is currently engaged in. this all from someone who does not join things readily! So thank you Nicola and the entire global on line community of dressage rider training!”
– Raimie weber
“Just wanted to touch base and thank you so much for creating the Dressage Rider Training Programme, I am just finishing Week 12 and have signed up for DRT2. This is the first time I have stuck to a workout programme from start to finish. The workouts are fabulous I look forward to each and every one of them, and often repeat them. I have noticed a huge difference in my straightness, I have a real tendency to collapse my right ribs, due to a fall a few years ago. I can now look at photos and video of myself without cringing! I am starting to do some higher level movements with my horse now – canter half pass and flying changes, so this programme has been invaluable in helping me isolate and use muscles independently. I have a long way to go, but with the help of DRT2 about to start I know I’m on the right track. I have been telling everyone about your programme and trying to encourage them to sign up. I think part of the greatness is the comradery of all the other participants. The FB Page is just fabulous, everyone is so supportive and helpful, especially if you are having a bad day and need some encouragement. I look forward to continuing the DRT Journey.”
Chrissy Johnston, Helensville, Auckland
“I have ridden for quite a long time and have gone from low level eventing to dressage in the last few years. About 2 years ago something was happening that disturbed me. I used to come out of a class and be greeted with “nice ride” or “lovely horse” etc. Then it changed to “you are such an inspiration” What? Really? It was all meant well but what happened here to throw the switch. Was it because I was old, stayed on my horse and remembered test??
It reminded me of when I brought home an Irish horse. He was huge, angular, a bit rough coated, basic bay with no white. He had a great eye and was the finest horse I have had privilege of owning. I invited a friend to come see him as I was so excited to finally have him home. My friend stood there shifting from foot to foot, clearly uncomfortable with what he was seeing. Finally he said “gee, he’s really brown” What??? I have gone back and looked at photos of me and looked at my test scores and finally knew what the problem was.
Fitness and Focus
I have always been fit from skiing and running etc but not rider fit. In the photos I was round shouldered and slumping, I looked happy but not determined. DRT has changed all that. I have been working hard on the programs both for fitness and awareness of my body and intent. It has helped beyond belief. I am happier, more confident and more focused while I ride and my horse is going really well. I recently came back from a dressage week in Portugal and was able to do so much more than I could before on these fabulous horses. On my last day I had a lesson with the head instructor and she said “you are a very good rider —and very fit”. I almost cried. As I walked up the hill with my horse and the other riders following me I heard some one say “she’s such an inspiration!”
And I am fine with this!! Thank you DRT and Nicola”
– Cindy Horrocks
“I’ve just finished DRT1 and I loved it, it has improved my over all fitness, my posture and my riding, and even my mind set! Less pain in the hips, still got issues but try to work through it. Bonus is that I’ve also lost a few kg’s even without a good eating plan 😉
I want to continue this journey towards a better and fitter me and become a better rider for my horses. With the youngster I’m starting under saddle now, balance and good aids are essential”
– Siri Wylie
“As an eventer, DRT has been an incredibly positive experience for me across all three disciplines. I have seen improvements in the independence of my aids and in the strength of my core. My OTTB mare is very sensitive in the bridle and it is imperative I am able to be soft and reflexive with my hands. DRT1 really helped me develop an independent seat and leg and use these aids much more efficiently, as well as being steadier and more consistent with contact. In addition to the improvements in dressage, my forward galloping position for XC is much stronger and I feel more confident in being able to focus on the task at hand!”
– Jess Navarro, Greensboro, NC
I have just finished Drt 1 and I am now taking part in Drt 2 . I am a novice rider and get to ride for just one hour a week.I was interested in doing the Drt programme to help me get the most out of this precious time . I really enjoyed the workouts and I am much stronger as a result of them . I feel they have improved my balance and position on the horse . The 20 minute duration makes them easy to fit into my schedule. Thank you Nicola for this fantastic programme !
– Lisa, Ireland