Dressage Rider Training Reviews

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.

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Lotte Aaskilde – Denmark

I started on DRT training because through several years with bad hips I have come to sit crooked on the horse. In 2021 I got a new hip and started riding again in 2022. I have now completed DRT1 and can clearly feel that I have become stronger and sit straighter. There is still some way to go until I am completely straight. So I keep training. Thank you for a great training program.

Freya – United Kingdom

I have found all three of the DRT programs, DRT 1, DRT 2 and DRT 3, hugely helpful on so many levels, mentally as well as physically, not only for my riding but also for my general fitness and for enabling me, along with the support of an fantastic trainer, to start to fulfil some dreams.
DRT1 helped me to build confidence in starting to push myself and actually work on all aspects of physical fitness, core strength, yoga and rider specific strengthening. I have had a number of injuries, which had previously led to me being very cautious about what exercises I did.
DRT2 hugely consolidated this and I felt lifted my core strength to another level (still something I have to always work on), along with significantly improving my flexibility further. It also made me realise what I needed to continue to work on.
DRT3 has added yet another vital element – the dynamic coordination and control needed in dressage, something I have been struggling with. DRT3 has definitely been enjoyably challenging to do and I will be repeating it. I am a 55 year old who has discovered true love for dressage later in life, and am now trying to ride at a level I had only ever dreamt of. Whilst I am aware that it takes longer to build muscle memory when you are a bit older, doing this program is really helping.
Thanks to all 3 programs and especially DRT3 helping me feel physically fitter, I have now, with my trainer’s support, also ventured to take on a younger horse to bring on in dressage. Another dream I had.
The DRT programs have help open up so many opportunities for me, it remains a journey and the best part of these programs is that you can go back to them again and again, which I regularly do. Best of all these programs are helping me work towards being the best partner I can be for my two gorgeous horses, especially as I am not able to ride every day. Thank you Nicola and your team for always being there to support me through DRT.

Best wishes

Patricia Renwick


Thanks for asking for my feedback on DRT3. I think I liked it the BEST of the 3 programsI have completed. I liked the fact that each exercise was timed, and that there is a summary of what exercises would be covered in each session ahead of time. I also like knowing what equipment we need for each session, before we start. I like to be prepared. I just started DRT4 today.

I would love the presentation of more options for each exercise, since some are hard for me with my hip issues, and left shoulder injury. Alternate positions are very helpful so I can participate in each exercise. Planks are the hardest for me overall.

I love the use of the Swiss ball – it removes some of the impact from some floor exercises, and is a great option for certain poses and positions. I’d love to see MORE exercises using the Swiss ball!

Thank you for such a dynamic and easy-to-use program! I love it! It’s easy to stick to the schedule, since it’s a reasonable amount of time for each session, and the muscle focus is excellent! My core strength and balance have really improved! The tone and presentation of the programs is wonderful! They are light-hearted and very positive. I really enjoy them! I had a left hip replacement 2 years ago, and having my right one done in March, and these exercises were key to my recovery.

Thanks again for putting together such a great program! It’s affordable and doable!


Nicola Walton-Knight – Canada

Hi Nicola, I have just completed DRT 2! Doing these programs has been the best change I could ever have made to my riding. I have better strength, more flexibility, quicker reaction times and more connection with my horse. He now “hears” me better as I flap less, wobble less and “speak” more clearly with my aids. My coaches have seen the improvement- that’s all the praise I need!
I’m in my fifties and came back to riding after my daughter persuaded me to ride Louis when she moved onto horses with more scope. I knew I needed to get better balance; especially when trying to light seat and two point- I came across your program through Facebook and immediately thought; “She’s another Nicola- she must be good!” The 20 minute sessions fit well with a busy life and you are so encouraging. Here’s to 2024 and DRT 3! Here’s a photo of Louis and I after the dressage phase of our first ever two stage event; with my daughter Ellie being our wonderful groom.

Andrea – Canada

I love how these programs develop! DRT3 is more of a challenge, but I can feel the good foundation that DRT1 and 2 have laid to be able to meet the challenge. I can feel the elasticity that has developed. It’s all made such a difference in my riding! I can move so much more with the horse in sitting trot, and my balance and stamina are so much better! I’ll be doing these exercises on repeat! Thanks for putting together such a great program!

Melodee Walker – USA

I am far from a dressage rider, have a couple joint replacements, turn 69 in a couple weeks but after finding out last year that my horse is PSSM1 homozygous I realized I needed to do something so I could ride my horse better, more comfortably & frequently. Ace needs exercised most days & I hurt too much to want to do so on many days.

I have received DRT1 info for a few years & considered it but never took the plunge to just do it. This past September I knew I had to give it a go.

Last week was the end of the 12 weeks of the program. I have only been doing thru Week 5 over & over a few times because my body isn’t ready to move on but I can tell a difference – my hips don’t hurt as much when I ride, I feel more stable in the saddle, I believe I am more balanced & hope Ace Town can feel the difference too. Cataract surgery has set me back recently but I WILL finish DRT1 in the allotted 6 months. Thanks Nicola for your persistence in contacting me & developing this training. It works!

Ilyse Gold – USA

Greetings Nicola -Here is a photo of Mickie & I. Mickie is my 11-yr. old Hanoverian mare – my “heart horse”.
Mickie is a very talented mare and I am striving to ride her to her potential. Although I have been physically active my entire life, at 70-years old, I realized I needed some additional flexibility and core strength to ride her like she deserves. I have never done a program like this before and at the start I wasn’t sure it would help. Boy was I wrong! Your program has given me the additional flexibility and capacity that I need to ride my big-moving warmblood. I so enjoyed that your sessions are not “staged”, and that you give options for various levels of intensity. I am thankful I have the jump drive, as I will be using your yoga sessions before I ride and the strength sessions on the non-riding days. Your words of encouragement resonate with me when I ride J. My trainer has commented on the improvement in my position and my ability to flow with Mickie. Your program has helped me more than I ever expected!

Beth Nagusky – US

Hi Nicola: This is me on Murphy, a 10 YO OTTB who I got in April. He spent 4 years on the track in Texas, then went to a cattle ranch, and then for some unknown reason ended up in a kill pen. He was rescued by a woman in Pennsylvania, who sold him to a dealer in Ohio, from whom I got him. He has gained a lot of weight and is muscling up nicely! Still quite green and a bit of a spook.

I am 70 years old and while I have done several triathlons and many 100 mile bike rides, and xc ski and ice skate without any issues, I have struggled to do well with dressage. The DRT course was the first time I felt I made real progress in the saddle. My instructor and I agree that the course has really helped with my core strength, my seat, and my straightness. I look forward to continuing the work and continuing to make progress with Murphy. Thank you!

Emma Spowage – UK

Hi Nicola,

I really enjoyed the dressage rider training course and found it improved my central balance and core strength surprisingly quickly. It made me much more aware of my position in the saddle and I will continue to work on the exercises. It was good that I could complete the course in my own time and felt by weeks 8 and 9 I wanted to stay on those workouts for another week which really helped before I moved on to the next level.
I would recommend the course for anyone wanting to improve their riding strength, fitness, balance and position in the saddle.

I have attached two photos of my beautiful little horse and I competing this year. She is only five and we are still at the very early stages of her training so lots to work on!

Many thanks and best wishes


Eilidh Oloughlin – UK

Hi Nicola

This is me on Jack at our first ever competition this weekend. I have never competed, and we got 3rd in our Intro .

DRT 1 has been amazing. I feel so much more balanced and even. I am pretty fit as I run and do yoga but I just couldn’t figure out how to become more balanced and improve my weaker side.

Every single exercise you do brings attention to detail and enables small corrections leading to huge gains. I feel so stable now, more confidence and ready to get out there on my gorgeous boy.

Thanks so much


Tanis Lane – Canada

Hello Nicola, This is my big fellow Elmo. We compete in Western dressage. I may not be the most helpful reviewing the riding component as my horses and I take time off in the winter here in Alberta.
DRT has provided me with a programme to keep me “riding” fit over the winter – getting me ready for spring. However, for the strength, yoga and core – I have thoroughly enjoyed the programme.
I have not yet completed the 12 weeks but that doesn’t worry me. Life gets in the way and I appreciate being able to go back and repeat the weeks that I struggled with.
It is very well organized, progressive and the alternatives for particular activities is excellent. I have tried a few online rider programmes and found some of them unorganized or difficult to follow.
DRT is the best I have used. I will continue to work at the levels and am so thankful that the programme will stay active for an additional 6 months.
Then I will truly see how it has helped me with my riding in the spring.
Tanis Lane

Karen Vinten-Hughes – UK

Hi Nicola,

I have two horses, I wonder if there’s enough room for them both! The reason being that one of the offshoots of taking DRT1 is that my confidence levels have increased so much, feeling stronger and lighter (losing 28lbs so far), and it has allowed me to ride Big Ted (side shot attached) out hacking as he’d been abandoned at the yard where Poppy stays (other pic front on), and he hadn’t been out hacking in about 5yrs due to arthritis that I was able to alleviate the pain for, along with the vet. So, he became rideable and my confidence allowed me to thoroughly enjoy being high up there, with him being excited to see the forest surrounding the stables. I was also more adept at jumping off!

My riding with Poppy has improved. She has had years of dressage training and she is teaching me! I can now focus on engaging my core. This is a huge revelation! My stirrups are longer by 3 holes. I am more balanced in the saddle, she is rounding and we are currently working on consistency from halt to walk to trot and back again, rounded. She doesn’t make it easy for me, but I think she has gotten the message that over the past few weeks, I have improved as a rider and she is listening more and delivering!

The community has been so inspiring. I am 58yrs old and have waited all these years since a young child to own my own horse (now two of them), and I know I’m not like a rubber band any longer, but I am flexible and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed stretching and building core strength which has brought with it a state of relaxation and focus I didn’t have before.

I am going to continue on this journey. I hope it never ends and my aim now is to build up Poppy’s top line, riding her in a more forward and consistent way so she is encouraged to use her hind end and back through her neck, so she has many years of healthy and happy times ahead of her. And for Big Ted to enjoy what years he has remaining, as a working horse (he’s clipped this year for the first time in years, and rugged), and he is so much happier than before.

Thank you, Nicola – your presentation style is excellent and I’ve enjoyed participating very much.

Best wishes,

Karen, Poppy and Big Ted xxx

Linda Feeney – USA

Horseback riding is a full body activity that requires strength stamina, balance, focus, and flexibility. As a 55+ adult beginning rider, I knew that I would need to do some major work outside the training ring in order to see progress.

I found the Dressage Rider Training (DRT) program on Facebook. Even though it looked like exactly what I needed, I was still cautious. You can’t believe everything you see on social media! But, after some Internet research and trying several of Nicola Smith’s free videos on YouTube, I was convinced. DRT was exactly what I needed.

What surprised me the most about DRT was how quickly I began to feel a difference and how little time commitment was required. The 20 minute sessions fly by. If an exercise is too much for me, there are modifications to fit my abilities. There are also supplemental homework exercises that take conditioning even further.

How do I know that DRT is working? Each week I noticed small physical wins. Everyday tasks became noticeably easier. But, horseback riding is where I saw the most significant gains.

I take group tiding lessons. I do not have my own horse. I am randomly assigned one of three horses for each lesson. Each of these horses has some specific challenges. DRT helps me deal with all of them.

There are many examples of how DRT has helped my riding, but I want to share the most serious incident.

During a warm-up trot along the rail, my lesson horse stumbled on a small divot in the arena surface and fell to his knees. I kept my balance and I kept my seat. I patiently waited for my horse to recover and find his feet.

I was so worried about my horse that it didn’t hit me until later — I could have gone flying over his head and been seriously injured. But that didn’t happen. My mind and muscles were ready to respond to the suddenly changing situation.

The most unexpected benefit of DRT, however, has been in the area of confidence. I have pushed myself beyond my comfort zone by competing in a local show and attending a riding clinic. I doubt I would have tried these activities without making major progress in my riding.

I can imagine what people might think — I must have a magic schedule to be able fit this all in. I don’t. Life happens. Injuries happen. So, my work on DRT1 continues. But, one thing I know for certain — DRT is now a permanent part of my fitness routine.

Maria Delaup – LA, USA

DRT 2 has been the perfect continuation to the Introductory program. Loved the core portion the most. I have continued to experience improved balance and efficiency of aids in my riding and it has been evident in my pony’s self carriage. We were brave enough to enter our first dressage show (schooling, hence the silly presentation), and earned a first place 🙂
Thank you for a fun, enjoyable and effective program!

Caroline Brabyn – Ontario

Hello Nicola,

I have really enjoyed the DRT1 program. I have found that my balance has improved and that my seat is much better at the sitting trot.



Kathy Hendges – USA

This DRT program has been amazing for my fitness, balance and strength. I have always worked out in a gym but did not know any important areas to focus on for riding. I’m looking forward to continuing with the additional series however all of these exercises I have downloaded to date will always be an excellent foundation for continued progress! Thank you Nicola so much for this wonderful program!!!

Emily Griffith – USA

The program really helped me find a seat on my horse! I had been struggling with balance and the yoga and core exercises helped a lot. And this is my horse Mister Chin! Thank you so much for this program!

Jennifer Sonntag – Colombia

I have been riding dressage for three years. While I have been improving, and I’m in good physical shape and working out regularly, I felt something was missing. I struggled with keeping my balance in the canter and couldn’t keep my lower legs from moving. That’s why I decided to give the DRT 1 program a shot. The weekly exercises are fun and easy enough to squeeze into my schedule. I was always looking forward to doing them, and I could feel how my balance and strength improved each week. I feel more secure in the saddle now and am pleased to say that my canter has greatly improved. Above all, I have quite a spooky horse, which would make me nervous at times as I would shift in the saddle when he jumped to the side or bucked, but after completing the program, I have more confidence in my seat and feel better prepared to deal with these situations. I’m excited to keep learning and building on what I learned in the first program. Thanks so much, Nicola!

Gillian Molesworth – UK

I signed up for DRT 1 to help me prepare for a jumping challenge that I was anxious about. I appreciated the convenience of the workouts, which can be done at home and don’t take too long or leave you too physically tired when you have yard work to do. I also liked that all of the exercises were tailored to riders, and draw on various elements of exercise such as yoga which I really enjoy. The Facebook group is a fun way of sharing the international camaraderie and general craziness of horse people, and to be able to air our struggles, which (let’s face it) are pretty niche. Although I didn’t manage to do all the workouts, I can definitely tell the difference to my strength and flexibility and they gave me a lot of confidence when it came to my jumping challenge. I came back for a second session and would 💯 recommend to fellow riders!

Kevin H – USA

Nicola’s guidance on important personal fitness exercises to be a better rider were incredibly helpful. My trainers noticed immediately that my balance, stamina, and hip flexibility greatly improved over just three months. I have now integrated these exercises into my 4 day a week gym work. What a difference! Just running or lifting weights does not come close to the importance of this class and what you will learn!

Pam Kempthorne

I’m working through DRT2 and enjoying the process of getting stronger and fitter. The program is well designed with varied and focused workouts and the short sessions make it easy to combine with my other activities. My horse Argo appreciates the balance and coordination improvements I’ve made with DRT.

Ally Godfrey – Texas, USA

Hello Nicola-

I am 62 years old and I have been riding for 50 years. (How is that even possible??) I started DRT 1 about 16 or 17 weeks ago. I had to have a break for a month or so due to an injury to my foot…she spooked and kicked my ankle at a show but I ride anyway. 🙄

Eventing is my primary equestrian sport. And with dressage being the first phase, and my most challenging, I have found that DRT has really helped my core and allowed me to focus on my position Beasley can be a bit resistant to the aids and developing core strength, and the ability to use different parts of my body in unison, has really helped with this.
There is so much information available on the internet now, and I picked DRT because I liked the structure of the lessons, the time commitment and the fact that the instructor, Nicola, is a dressage rider. Options are given for exercises so that you can be successful.
I was looking for an exercise program that I could do at home to add to my current routine, with a rider focus, and this has been great! I have signed up for DRT 2 which I will be starting next week.
I highly recommend DRT and I am looking forward to carrying on and becoming a better rider.

Lynn Zeits – Tennessee

Dear Nicola, I am very much grateful for the program and am looking forward to doing more. I usually am solo when riding so I don’t have a lot of pictures recently, so I am sending some pictures of an obstacles clinic that we recently did in hand. One thing for sure is that the program is helping me to achieve the goal of being more secure in the saddle. Balance and safety are very important to me since I do a lot of trail riding. My “ring work” (around the pasture and yard) focuses on western dressage, ranch type riding, and anything I can think of to help me meet my goals of riding safely out and about by myself.

Kirsten Mundell – UK

Hi Nicola, just getting to the end of Week 10 now and I can honestly say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
It’s like finishing a jigsaw puzzle, all the pieces are now clicking into place, I feel so much more from the saddle and keep checking in with my straightness, balance and softness and I’m sure my girl is delighted not to have me bumping about as much on her back, especially coming back from her operation when neither of us are riding fit.
Enclosed a couple of pics and hopefully I will get to start DRT 2 after our September holiday.
Thank you once again it’s been a complete pleasure.
Kirsty and Gypsy

Vicky – USA

I started with DRT 1 after I bumped into it on FB in 2018. I was 60 yrs old and my right hip had worn out. I had ridden the majority of my life, but I found I could barely sit in the saddle as my hips were contracting due to the arthritis in my right hip.

During the course of DRT 1 I was amazed that at my age I could increase my strength and flexibility.

Then came DRT 2, why not go for it? I eventually got my hip replaced Jan 2020 and by March I was free to ride again and do any other physical activity.

As each DRT program was developed I got more motivated to work through each of them. Fast forward to May 2021, I purchased a 3 yr old TB gelding. Well bred & ranch raised here in Hill Country Tx, it was his personality that stole my heart. We had a great start, but a couple of unlikely accidents have put him in stall rest and rehab for almost half the time I have had him.

BUT… DRT has always been a part of my morning routine, and I might add, all your other yoga and strength programs. I have completed many of them more that once. I consider DRT to be Dressage for humans!. It is a methodical, systematic approach to improving fitness and stamina. Each week builds on the previous week and the workouts during the week highlight different muscle groups so it is rare to be too sore to work out. It has kept me, now 66 yrs, fit and flexible enough to get back in the saddle after several months off due to lameness.

As an extra bonus, due to the weight bearing and strength building aspects of your programs, my dexa scans (test for osteoporosis) have improved! I no longer have osteopenia (weakened bones due to age related changes) My scans are those of a premenopausal woman!

Your programs and the quality of your website is amazing. I have always had great customer service when I needed help. I expect to have you and Ben in my life for many years to come

Jamie Cearley – USA

Just hoping to encourage someone out there and thank Nicola for this outstanding program. I bought the DRT1 program in January of 2020 in hopes of getting stronger and having more energy. It took me 12 weeks before I could complete the first phase without sucking wind or collapsing. I was loving the progress. On May 16, 2020 I had a serious accident with my horse resulting in 4 spinal fractures (C3, C4, L1 and L4). Throw in a 1 month Covid setback and it wouldn’t be until January 25, 2021 before I began the DRT1 program again. Amazingly this time it was only 10 weeks to get back to week 5 workouts.

Once at week 5 I experienced another setback in that I strained a ligament in my back near one of the fracture sites (washing my LQ. Sigh) and I was down for another 2 months. I got back up again and progressed faster still. I am so proud to say that TODAY November 19th, 2021 I completed the final week 12 workout. I am stronger than I have been in decades. I have begun to ride my new horse. Having been able to only sit with him for a long time, then gradually groom, go for walks, bathe, ground work, and now progressing to riding I have had the opportunity to form a relationship with him that I am loving. My old buddy has gone to a good home of my choosing. He was/is a fantastic horse and the accident was no fault of his but I could not overcome the trauma aspect to return to him.

Anyway, I want to encourage anyone who may have had a similar experience that no matter how many setbacks you have, forward is the key. Each time you get knocked down you can pick back up and get back to where you were faster and move beyond. I am looking forward to DRT2 when it opens next time! Thank you Nicola for a fantastic program. My PT loved it as well and encouraged me to pursue it after finishing with him.

I was amazed to have completed the DRT2 program in the 12 weeks planned. It helped me gain so much more strength and flexibility and balance. It was after DRT2 completion that I actually began to feel stronger. I remember the first time I really realized I was changing was when I went to lift myself into the bed of my pickup truck and was surprised when I literally flew up higher than I needed to! I was thinking, wow, what just happened?

I finished DRT2 wanting more. DRT3 took me a bit longer to finish as I repeated some weeks before moving on. I found it to be helpful in increasing what I would describe as athleticism. That feeling of being more bouncy and youthful (although believe me at 53 I am well aware I don’t bounce like I used to but it’s all relative right?). I went on to DRT4 looking for the one component I felt I was missing, stamina.

Well, I am happy to say that I finished DRT4 this past Sunday and am pleased with the progress in the area of stamina but even more so perhaps in that I have gained even more strength. I have more muscle than EVER before. I plan to repeat DRT4 again in hopes I can gain more stamina still and try some of the harder options offered. I love this program so much. I truly feel it has brought me back to life. I love that Nicola keeps me safe. Just when I start to lose form she chimes in with some great advice or encouragement.

I am stronger and more fit and confident in my abilities than I have been since college (and that was a LONG time ago). The differences I find every time I ride my horse are astounding. I can execute instructions riding him that I was never able to do even before my accident. It is truly a great feeling. Thank you Nicola for using your skills and talents to create such a fantastic program. You are bettering peoples lives, and their horses lives too!

All the best,

Sandi Leach – UK

I am delighted to have worked through DRT2 and to see the progress I have made. I was in two minds whether to move on to DRT2 as I felt there were some areas of DRT1 that I just wasn’t very good at – lunges and leg strength mostly. But I have worked through DRT2 in the 12 weeks and am very happy with how I managed.
I returned to riding in my late 40’s after about a 10 year period of not riding at all and although everything clicked back into place and I could ride well, I just didn’t have that easy confidence that I had had before.

DRT 1 & 2 have given me back that feeling. I am more balanced in my seat bones, more in tune with my horse, my legs work independently without involving my whole body and I am much more relaxed. I didn’t realise how much tension I was holding in my seat but that has now gone and I have dropped down a stirrup hole for flatwork. These are subtle changes but they have made all the difference to how I feel in the saddle.

Off the horse my posture has improved and I am stronger. DRT is now part of my life and I can tell if I miss a day or two but seeing the positive changes it has made makes it easy to keep motivated and the results are amazing. Thank you Nicola!

Marley McCourt – USA

I absolutely loved taking part in the Dressage Rider Training Program, even though it was only for twenty minutes a day the results were unbelievable! My trainer recommended the program to me, and I have to say, it was incredibly helpful! I’ve seen a significant improvement in my position, even after the first week. What I loved most about the program was the ability to go back and watch certain videos over and over again and still receive positive results. I found the weekly goal breakdown to be very helpful in keeping me motivated. As my horse has large gaits, staying fit is important to keep up with his fitness. This program has assisted me in achieving that. I am grateful for purchasing the flash drive as it allows me to keep the videos forever and continue my progress.

Lila Jennings

I have done each week twice and I really feel the benefit of it when I do the second week so I have another 12 weeks to complete and I am thrilled with it, my core and legs have really strengthened and with my run in the mornings I am quite fit, My Harmony (my horse) is has a lot of blood and can be spooky so I value the extra strength in my legs, all needed, This is mainly why I did DRT1 and 2 and it has really helped, and my instructor sees the results too, me and Harmony have become more of a pair as I have much better leg contact which really can be seen in my flat work,

Laura Clark – Victoria, Australia

I am absolutely blown away from the changes I’ve seen having completed the DRT1 program! I had a really serious accident earlier in year breaking my lower back, sternum and smashing five ribs (all down the left side) which obviously left me with a lot of weakness and unevenness. I had three months of rehab to be back in the saddle at 12 weeks post surgery.

Riding again wasn’t painful, I had physio clearance, but I was so tight and braced, how tight and weak I was made me tip forward, I physically couldn’t sit in the canter, I was collapsed through the whole left side and my body from behind looked more like a zig zag than a straight line. Timmy is a very sensitive boy, and needs a soft rider, so my bracing and weakness caused a lot of tension and bracing from him in return.

Having finished DRT1, I feel so much straighter, I am strong enough through my lower back and core to sit tall in the saddle again, I feel much more even through both sides, and I am able to sit deep in the saddle and my leg feels LONG (even pre accident, feeling like I had a long leg was never something I’d achieved!). I’m riding softly and more correctly, and in turn Timmy is going softer and more correctly, we’re not bracing against each other.

I started this program as part of my rehab with the aim to get back to where I was before the accident, but I’m feeling better on a horse mere months post major accident than I ever did beforehand. I’ve gained the confidence back to get back out competing again!

Maria Delaup – LA, USA

This was my first time trying the DRT program and it has been a game changer!

Although I’m more of a pleasure rider; I dabble in everything from baby hunters to basic dressage (both English and Western), to trail and Endurance riding, and I think this program is beneficial for riders of all disciplines. My core strength and balance has improved. I am more even through my body. Those nagging old-injury stiff-and-sore-spots are much more supple.
I know the Batty pony appreciates my ability to stay out of his way and communicate more cleanly.

Working through this program has also helped improve my running. Love that!

I absolutely plan to continue working with this program. Thank you, Nicola!

Shan Edwards – Canterbury, NZ

Hi Nicola, Prior to joining DRT I was aware of that I needed to improve my strength and fitness if I wanted to progress with my riding. It has been great finding an on line programme specifically designed for riders.

I am an enthusiastic amateur, passionate about my sport with a single minded desire to progress.

I enjoy great satisfaction in having completed DRT 1,2,3. As a result my riding has improved, specifically my improved core strength has meant I can maintain my posture in the saddle with relative ease giving me the confidence to believe I will continue to improve.

I enjoyed the variety in the DRT 3 programme, this helped keep me engaged and interested to see what each weeks routines were, DRT 1&2 laid the foundation strength needed to succeed at level 3 . It is very rewarding to discover that with practice one can actually balance on a Swiss ball!

Ann Lowe – New York

This is the very first time sitting on my new horse! It will be my first time riding a horse that is a blank slate, and is super sensitive! We have spent quite a long time on the ground, working on her balance and symmetry. It’s up to me to help her maintain and improve that by being the best rider possible – such a responsibility! This course helped me to identify certain areas where I need to improve my suppleness and muscle control as we begin our journey into riding. ~ Ann and Willow

Andrea – Canada

DRT2 is a great step up! It’s been so beneficial, not just for my riding, but for my fitness as a whole. My posture and balance are so much improved. I used to lean on the reins a lot, but now I can balance on my seat. I’ve probably progressed more in my riding in the past 6 months than in the past few years! (I ride once a week.) I’ve even cantered without stirrups, which was so much fun! My stamina has also improve, and I don’t feel worn out before my lesson is done. This program is great investment, and not only for riding. Highly recommended!

Gillian Smith – UK

Hi Nicola

I have just finished DRT2 which has been part of an amazing journey for me. I have struggled with confidence issues and ptsd following the loss of my 21 year old daughter and this has impacted my riding. I really needed to get my body and mind back on track and your programme has helped so much. I feel fitter and stronger both mentally and physically and I am keen to repeat much of the programme to really improve on my suppleness and strength. I have even been out competing and thoroughly enjoyed it! Along with my instructors you have helped me get back to enjoying my hobby without much fear and with a new stronger body and mindset. Thank you!

Best wishes


Leslie Molony

My experience in DRT1 was helpful in several ways. The routines kept me exercising regularly. Homework was easy to do in the den ( usually). The reading material encourages additional mobility and activities which are not stressful at all. It was enjoyable because each week was a little different. And the icing on the cake, Nicola has competition on the mat from her pup as do I …so I felt a connection.

Laura Greer – USA

I loved, loved this program. I was a swimmer in college and a high level nordic athlete in addition to a horseback rider. I developed chronic, exercise induced migraines and have found exercise difficult to keep up with due to my frequent migraines. I’m starting to get better with medication and trying to get back in shape. I’ve found this program just the right length and it makes me feel great on my migraine free days! Really there is no excuse not to try 20 minutes, even if I have a headache I can do the meditation or the light yoga. My plan is to repeat the program then sign up in six months for the next set. I’m off to walk my dog! I particularly love that Nicola is out there with her pooch.

Randi Lintrup – Denmark

I have had horses all my life, but it is a long time ago I have had youngsters. I will turn 50 before my youngster is ready to be ridden next year, and that made me conclude that I need to improve my physical abilities well in advance.

I came across Dressage Rider Training 8 months ago and I am deeply amazed! I am ready to start DRT3 and I have enjoyed every lesson so far.

I have improved massively and can really feel the difference when riding horses and in my everyday life. I am grateful and I am sure the horses are too.

As a vet I know how important it is to disturb the horses as little as possible, and we all owe our horse friends to stay or become fit and balanced.

Here you see one of my horse friends – the fjord horse breeding stallion Fjellkaisar from Denmark 💛 We highly recommend Nicola’s Dressage Rider Training programs.

Kind regards


Deborah Gulick

Thank you, Nicola, for the DRT equestrian fitness programs! I have completed DRT1 and DRT2 and I am seeing continual improvement in not only my strength but in making my left and right sides more balanced in strength. I am stronger on my left and did not realize it until these programs. This is why I tend to twist and lean to one side in the saddle! The awareness I have gained lets me consciously correct this twist while riding and the strength I have gained makes this correction possible.
I have successfully used other fitness programs, but I now prefer DRT because it is aimed at riders and I benefit when you connect the lesson to how it will affect my position on the horse.
Here I am with Dibs after finishing a 10 mile intro to Endurance ride in the rolling hills of Fair Hill, MD. It was positively pouring rain, wind was 20mph, pelting the rain into my face and my horse’s face! Thankfully, the thunder and lightening had stopped right before we were to begin. I am so proud that I felt strong enough in the saddle to be confident enough to go ahead with this ride. This is a huge step forward for me! I will be signing up for DRT3.

Carol Howard

Dear Nicola,

DRT 3 has been my favorite for so many reasons. Almost all of the routines have received “stars” in my journal. I do that so I know which ones to repeat after I’m done with the twelve weeks. I enjoy the 4X reps in the core and fitness segments. I get better each time through, and my heart rate is really up when I’m finished! Your modifications are perfect for me. Since I’m 72, I need to use them especially the jumping ones, but I will say that by week 12, I was able to do small jumps without so much sounding like an elelphant landing. I didn’t care for the yoga when I started DRT1. Now, I cant imagine doing without it.

The conditioning routines are fabulous. I have downloaded them so that I can do them in the lounge at the barn where the wifi doesn’t work. I audited a clinic last week and by the end of the day, my shoulders were screaming from sitting on bleachers. I did conditioning #1, and the pain went away. Thank you!

I so enjoy your program. The organization and the ability to do it at home is perfect for me. I know that it has helped my riding, and I’m so grateful to be still able to ride. I have to say too that the way you present yourself on camera with your little dog and horses makes me feel that I actually know you. The birds singing when we’re in the middle of a gastly winter in midwest USA is sooooo wonderful.

Well done and thank you! Carol Howard

Sandi Leach

If you ride, you should do this course! DRT was on my radar for quite a while before I finally committed and signed up. I hesitated as I wasn’t sure if I would benefit. I’m 57, I am not a dressage rider, I don’t compete but I do enjoy riding my horse in a variety of disciplines. I already did Pilates, worked on my core and did hip flexor exercises to help my lower back but finally I decided I needed some structure to my exercise plan so I signed up and I am so glad I did.

Somehow, just the 3 x 20 minute sessions a week work wonders and after just a few weeks I could feel an improvement in my seat and now am able to hold tone but remain relaxed and feel so much more part of my horse. Off the horse I have much better posture, am stronger, more flexible and am aware of where my weaknesses are so know what to work on. The sessions are enjoyable and the multiple options mean you will always be able to do it, keeping your motivation to improve.

I worked through the course in the 12 weeks but am now repeating it, working on the areas I found the hardest and with so much extra content it is very good value for money. I feel fitter and stronger than ever, thanks Nicola!

Allison Richards – Florida

Nicola, Thank you for your first 12 week program. It helped me a huge amount with my balance and also strengthening my core.

Lila Jennings

Here are a few pictures of Harmony, my 12.5hh mare, I have her three years but she is sharp and can never sleep on her, this is the reason of joining DRT, I wanted to be stronger in my core and legs, she has a lot of thoroughbred breeding in her and has an ability to hop on all four legs and it is hard to keep my balance so need all my muscles strong, I am also taking dressage and flat work lessons so really feel the benefit of your workouts, I do a lot of running too about 40km a week and when I started your training my poor legs couldn’t run, it took me about 3wks to strengthen but now I am flying, I have been doing your later weeks of the training twice, I am currently on week 9, for the second time, I feel I get more from them the second time but I love it, so much stronger and leaner, I am very interested in doing the DRT2 training course, so please send me any info on it!!

Carol – New Zealand

Background: I’m 62 and have been learning how to ride for 8 years. I have an old recurring hamstring injury and lower back pain and as a result quite unbalanced/sore. I dont own a horse but ride once or twice a week at a school. My ambition is to do a pony club cross country and ultimately a hunt!

I am so pleased I signed up for this course. 3 x 20 minute workouts and homework are totally achievable. I really appreciate that Nicola shows 2 to 3 different ways of doing each exercise depending on your fitness level.

I hadn’t done yoga before and found it challenging. Really appreciated the beginners sessions.

As a result of completing the 12 week course I feel a lot more balanced and relaxed while riding. Now enjoy riding without stirrups – best canters! And I’ve been riding a lot of different horses/sizes feeling confident and calm.

4 hour farm ride with awesome gallops/ canters on the weekend and no stops. Did yoga work out and roller for next 2 days after – no worries! 😁😁🐎

Nicola this course has been SO GOOD for me. I was so hesitant about pushing my exercises because everything hurt and i thought I was going to break something. But your program was so encouraging and achievable. I’ve repeated many of the lessons. I can mow lawns. Vacuum clean without having to wear a girdle belt support. Just feel really good and a lot less pain in my life. And of course achieving so much more when riding!

Still cant kneel on the swiss ball yet🤣🤣🤣 might let some air out …!!!

Thank you. Also I really like that you are a kiwi girl doing everything on your land with Lucy and your wee dog a part of it all . Love it.

Thank you
Carol 😁

Veronika Hlinomazova

I have recently completed your DRT course.
I am a total novice in horse riding sport and had felt very unbalanced in the saddle before the course. Also felt that the horse got frustrated when I was applying the aids incorrectly or clumsily.
Even though I had some set backs (horse got ill and work was crazy due to staff sickness) during the course, I enjoyed the lectures and I intend to repeat the course now to maintain and further improve the skills I learnt.

Since the horse, Penny, is sound again and work back to usual level of intensity, I very much look forward to repeating all the homework that I couldn’t do whilst I wasn’t riding.

Having completed the course, I feel a lot more stable in the saddle, lot more flexible and therefore in deeper connection with my horse. She seems to listen better and we have become a better team.

Far from perfection but we celebrate ‘the tiny gains ‘ which happen every day.

Thank you very much a very much look forward to further course work.

With Best Wishes


Christine Baleshta

I held off on signing up for the DRT program because I assumed the exercises would be too difficult for me at 70 years old. My horse, Willis, who was 4 years old when I bought him is now 16, and I want us both to be riding together for many more years. Happily, I was proved wrong. Though some of the workouts were hard, I found I could modify them to suit my pace, while others were easier and could be made harder. Additionally, Nicola’s weekly emails are encouraging, informative, and inspiring. I definitely feel more balanced and comfortable in the saddle as well as more aware of how my movements affect my horse. Though I just finished the DRT program, I plan to continue with the workouts and explore others on the website.

Patricia Renwick

The DRT 1 program was perfect for any rider! It definitely improved my balance and core strength, which was very helpful after my hip replacement surgery. Straightforward exercises in a manageable amount of time!

Collette Ward

Hi Nicola
I’ve enjoyed the program so much and have felt the benefits in so many areas of my riding and training on my young Spanish gelding. Small old injuries and middle age interrupted my program with you but it’s great that I can drop back a week and redo weeks .I especially enjoyed the Swiss ball work and it was a game changer for me. The program was challenging without being torture.

Andrea – Ontario, Canada

I’m a 40-year-old, once a week rider with an office job. In my weekly lesson, I was always struggling to keep myself from leaning forward. I also had weak legs and couldn’t use them independently. After just a couple session of the DRT program, both my riding instructor and I noticed a difference! I was so surprised and pleased with how quickly I saw results, more so because most of the workouts didn’t seem difficult. I love the gradual build up, and I definitely feel stronger, more stable, and my posture is much better! The no-stirrups work really helped as well, and I can sit much better in the saddle and use my legs more effectively. Thanks so much for putting this program together! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wanted to improve their riding.

Kris Laroche Missoula, Montana, USA

Dear Nicola,
I have one more workout to complete my 12 weeks of DRT 1. I can hardly believe the changes I am feeling physically since the start of this work in January. I didn’t think that 3 short workouts each week could have this kind of impact, but wow, this has blown my mind! My body feels strong, balanced, and I can do things that I could barely handle a fraction of and that shift is profoundly rewarding. Your kind voice, amazing support, authentic and genuine videos, and lovely laughter made me happy to hop on the computer, roll my mat out, and get to work. It also made such a difference remembering I am doing this for my Fleur. Anything to become a better rider with greater balance and softer aids! This program was hardly “anything” though. I sure hope I can continue with the next round soon! I am now diving into many of the recipes (nutrient dense beef stroganoff is in the crock pot as I write this, and I downed a green GREEN smoothie today as well). Thank you for the thoughtful and effective program you have created. I LOVED IT!!
Kris Laroche
Missoula, Montana, USA

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