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.

Filter by a Program
by a Country
Miriam de Valk – Auckland New Zealand

Hi Nicola, I just wanted to express how DRT1 has really helped my riding.

While I am still working through DRT1 and repeating some weeks in my own time, I have found the course very inspiring and encouraging.

My biggest gain was some of the simplest exercises of body awareness on and off my horses.

With the course comes access to so much more information. From extra routines to motivational mindset exercises to healthy eating recipes.

Nicola is wonderfully positive and is so generous with what she offers on the course.

Thanks so much, Nicola, for putting together such a fantastic program.

Jackie Tollerfield – UK

Hi, I started the DRT to help improve my posture and balance after many falls over the years I was very crooked. I felt I had to improve myself if I expected my horse to improve – this DRT course has massively improved my ability. I am a very busy Vet and working mum so I have taken a little longer to complete the program but I have kept going and I am improving slowly. I’m a couple of weeks away from finishing week 11,12.

Charlene Jensen

My horse, Cayman and I are riding second level dressage. The DRT 1 program has really strengthened my core and hips, helped me develop a deeper seat and better balance which in turn has allowed me to have more clear and effective aides. This has really improved our transitions and quality of gaits.

My strength and seat have developed so much since starting the program that I was able to ride walk, trot, and canter bare back. Previously, I would mostly walk and do some short distance trotting before loosing my balance. I have also been able to mount from the ground if I have to dismount while trail riding. That is something I haven’t been able to do for 15-20 years but, I can now that I have more strength and flexibility.

I’m ready to move on to DRT 2 program but, I will repeat the last four weeks of DRT 1 until the next program begins.

Thank you for the support!

Carol Henning – US

I am a lifetime rider as well as the recipient of multiple joint replacements. I completed DRT 1 & 2, and I can say my strength and mobility has has significantly improved as has my effectiveness of aids on my horses! My favorite part of the program is when Nicola discusses how what we are doing in DRT links to our
mounted work.

My biggest challenges have been with the Yoga sessions and completing any kind of leg sweep through as well as doing Swiss Ball exercises where your back/shoulders are on the ground and only the foot is on the ball (I personally need to avoid any chance of knee hyperextension). So, I just transition from pose to pose in a way that I am able and do bridges on the ground instead of the ball.

My advice to all is to take advantage of the DRT program! Challenge yourself with the new exercises DRT offers, but know your body and your true limitations and adjust to accomodate.

Anne Slater – UK

Having found the last few weeks of DRT1 a challenge I did wonder whether i would be ready for DRT2. I am pleased I went ahead with the programme as although I still find the balance ball exercises a challenge, DRT2 has moved into slightly different areas and my (poor!!) balance on the ball has not stopped me gaining huge amounts from DRT2. I have particularly enjoyed the yoga sessions (having been a complete yoga virgin when i started) – who knew breathing could be so difficult?! This is where I believe, I have gained so much from the programme. I have really noticed a massive improvement in my balance and stability while in the saddle but also in my everyday life. I broke my wrist a couple of years ago and although everything had healed and I was back riding again within a few months, this programme has highlighted how weak my wrist had become. As a result of the exercises in DRT2 in particular, I have really improved my strength in my wrist again and it really is back to normal now. As someone who would class themselves as fit and healthy, this programme has really highlighted how stiffness and one-sidedness can creep up on you. I’m no where near as bendy as Nicola but the sessions allowed me to follow at my own pace and I have seen a massive improvement. I would definitely recommend DRT2 to those on DRT1 as its a gentle and natural progression that won’t leave you feeling left behind. I’m attaching a photo of me and my 6yo Arty at our first competition as a partnership last week. Arty is 18 hands and has a huge trot but being a baby still, he can be very wobbly and loose balance. This programme has really helped me keep in balance with him and stay centred allowing him to find his way. Thank you Nicola. Your words are always encouraging and positive and I look forward to DRT3!

Sandi Leach – UK

DRT3 has taken the strength and flexibility that I gained in DRT 1 & 2 and has moved this on again. My back feels strong and I don’t have problems with my lower back being weaker, my whole back works from top to bottom. My shoulders are stronger, my posture has improved and I am now aware when I slip into poor posture, (driving or on the computer) and naturally correct myself. I am really pleased with how my balance has improved and I loved the exercises that challenge the cross slings.
I had a bit of a love hate relationship with the 60 second buzzer, by round 3 I was wanting it to end but then I was able to find extra effort in round 4 because I knew it was the last time through, the system works!
The difference that DRT has made to my riding has taken me from feeling underconfident riding without stirrups to happily cantering in a bareback pad! Thank you Nicola, I’m nearer 60 than 50 and feel in better shape than ever.

Christine Walz – Canada

Hello everyone. I just finished DRT 1 and was very happy with the results. My balance has improved a lot. Everybody is a little lopsided and uneven , with every ride I work on straightness and balancing the horse front to back and side to side. The program has helped me to find my weaknesses and how to get more balanced myself. I can’t believe how aware I am now and what some little weight shifts can do to help the horses I ride. Thank you. I especially love the exercises with the swiss ball. I like how that improves my body awareness.The picture is a 10 year old mare, 50% Clydesdale, 25% Thoroughbred, 25% Paint. Not your typical dressage horse haha but she is very sensitive and smart and we are showing at 3rd level.

Mallory Norvell – South Carolina, USA

Hi Nicola,I have absolutely loved the program; it has been a game changer for my riding. I am a 53 year old foxhunter, (very) occasional jumper rider and mother of a 16 year old pony clubber. My horse, Murry, is a solid citizen – and a solid 17h. I just didn’t have the core strength to put him together and ride as effectively as needed.
DRT has made a noticeable difference in my strength and balance. I am still a work in progress, but my position issues have really improved since I started the program…and my daughter and I have had loads of fun showing together this spring. I am a big believer in your program!

Jennifer Sonntag – Colombia

The DRT2 program was a great follow-up to the first program building on the exercises we practiced during DRT1. I am very grateful for this program, as it’s continuously helping me stay flexible, strong, and, most importantly, relaxed and safe in the saddle. My seat has improved greatly since starting the program, as has my confidence on the horse. Thanks, Nicola!

Sandra Lawrence – Australia

I found DRT 2 easier than DRT 1 because I had repeated DRT 1 slowly over a year and reinforced all the techniques I had not been able to master. The most difficult technique was the lunge back and this was reflected in my riding where I was asking for canter depart on a circle. The awareness of which muscles to activate was an exercise in concentration.

There are new exercises in DRT 2 which I know I need to practice to improve my ability to hold the position and therefore strengthen my body. I found in my practice that technique was at the heart of the problem and much effort was wasted if I didn’t study how the footwork was done first.

Thank you Nicola for your effort in putting this program together. I am a student of riding in the arena and use the stretches before my lesson with great joy. My horses that I learn on are great teachers and tell me when I am moving into a new area of relaxation of certain muscles. I work on two levels, one is the past issues and also a journal of the lesson to avoid carrying tension from week to week.

I have enjoyed the balance ball and over time have been amazed at the progress I have made which seemed impossible. I recommend that if working inside some cushions are placed to prevent the ball rolling too far as it is easy to fall and hit the floor or the furniture. It was also wonderful to make the transition to working outside with the ball.

Thanks once again for the program. It has given me some insight into dressage riding issues.

Sandra Lawrence

Jane Bancroft – UK

Hi Nicola, I’ve really enjoyed DRT1. I feel fitter and stronger as a result of completing all the workouts. I thought I was reasonably riding fit, since I ride daily and do yoga and pilates. The rider fitness certainly highlighted weaknesses and what I need to focus on. I have become more aware of making my core stronger and lightening/relaxing my hands, I really liked the homework exercises – a real added bonus! I also found the work on the Swiss ball really beneficial. Exercises that I thought were impossible initially I found I could do with practice and focus.

The picture is of me riding Katie at the British Riding Clubs National Championships on the 6th of April. We came 3rd with a score of 70% in Novice 27. This was my 3rd test of the day riding 2 different horses. I was thrilled I had the energy and focus to do so well in a National competition. Thank you!

Maha Mekkaoui – UK

Hello Nicola, I’ve so enjoyed working my way through DRT1 and am super pleased with the progress I’ve made. Will definitely want t continue on this journey but also feel I can still get loads of continued benefit by repeating these workouts.Thanks again

Virginia Cosenza – New Jersey, USA

Hi Nicola! The DRT2 program was the perfect follow on to DRT1! It further strengthened the specific muscles we need for riding, continued to improve core strength and really helped with balance.
After finishing DRT1 and starting DRT2, I noticed not only the benefits in my riding, but also felt improved strength and balance while playing tennis and skiing!
During DRT2 I started taking dressage lessons with a new trainer who really focuses on seat, position, use of the core and suppleness to get the most out of my OTTB mare! Without DRT2 I don’t think I ever could have had the strength and ability to be doing what my dressage trainer asks me to do!
I can’t wait to start DRT3 and am repeating all the DRT2 sessions in the meantime…:)

Sara Klinkner – Minnesota, USA

This program helped improve my core strength and stability in the saddle. I went from riding mostly OTTBs to an 18hand warmblood that was very strong in the bridle. This has helped me better support my own body to ride him better and rely less on my reins and more on my position to communicate with him. Very beneficial to me and my horse and I highly recommend this program!

Thank you for your help Nicola!

Lisa Rudder – Alabama, USA

What a great program! Of course I knew my body needed lots of improvement. I have enjoyed positive results in flexibility, balance and strength just to name a few areas. I so appreciate the extended time as I recognized my body was not ready to move to the next level. Instead I have started at the beginning hoping to keep up with you (that is not always an easy task!) and do the advanced maneuvers. LOVE having a program that improves my horse time in many areas!

Susan Kicklighter – USA

I have truly experienced awesome results with all the DRT programs. Each one has built on the previous one. Just when I think u cannot improve or
come up with something new, you do! Can’t wait for DRT 6! Until then, definitely going back to repeat 5!

Janet Shaw – Australia

Here I am with Clancy, my Australian Brumby. Clancy might tell you that he is not convinced the DRT1 has made much difference to my riding, but he would be wrong!

As a hobby rider limited to weekends, my progress with dressage will always be unhurried, shall we say. It’s been a 15 year journey so far and I am only 12 months in with Clancy (who is still pretty green).

I have always kept up with Pilates or yoga to stay as mobile as possible, as I have arthritis in several joints, and I have had to be opportunistic about whatever fitness I can achieve in an already quite busy life. The DRT program has streamlined all this in the pleasantest and most effective way: I can do a choice of workout when it suits me, at a pace that suits me, and I can easily adapt the exercises to my specific needs. I am not a fan of exercise for exercise’s sake, so I am delighted to be doing routines specially designed for riders and including not just core work but a lot of stretching and balance – both vital when you are in your 60s! With the added bonus of not having to drive through traffic to get to a session.

I have a lot to consolidate before I go on the DRT2, but thanks Nicola – I haven’t got sick of you yet! And Clancy, admit it: haven’t you noticed that my legs are a little longer and the independence of my aids is improving? Ah, see, you have noticed!

Karen Tosh – Florida

I am impressed with DRT and feel that my improvements are remarkable! I am a 74 year-old rider with an artificial hip and a new-to-me PRE named Bravio. While I have done Pilates and yoga over the years, the systematic training with Nicola dramatically improved my fitness both in and out of the saddle.

Kristin Carlson – USA

Hullo, I made more progress rehabbing my core strength with this program than I did with physical therapy. I like that improving stability is a throughline in every workout. The sessions are not repetitive, it’s all doable, yet challenging. I see the benefits in my every day life as much as in the saddle.

Kim Annunziata – USA

Hi Nicole, I think that the office hours are so beneficial and they have made me more aware of my body position. The whole program is helping me to transform my riding from the lectures to the podcasts and videos.

Sally Miles – Kent, UK

Hi Nicola, I have just completed DRT2 and intend to continue with the programme.

I debated signing up for the DRT programmes for ages because I knew I was so bad at exercising at home but eventually decided to give it a go as it is only 20 minutes a session – had the sessions been longer I would never have signed up.

I admit that I don’t do the homework but to be totally honest, just the fact that I’ve found a programme that I have stuck to is a totally victory!

I’ve always had a relatively strong core & been reasonably fit but my riding has definitely improved. I think the biggest change for me is the stability through my trunk – I am hyper mobile which makes me ‘loose’ and in some ways weak but I am now visibly more secure, enabling me to ride less noisily which my horse has responded well to.

I can also use my body parts more independently of each other, something I hadn’t even realised I wasn’t previously doing well. I have also noticed that if my horse doesn’t strike off into canter immediately, I can remain strong and correct, whereas previously I would have collapsed through my core & started gripping up more & more with each stride – I am sure it would have been very uncomfortable for my horse.

So definitely, my riding has improved and both my horse and I are grateful for the 20 minutes a day I spend with you, thank you!

Randi Lintrup – Denmark

Dear Nicola

I finished DRT4 last week, and I owe you a big thank you. I’m so happy that I found you and DRT.

I’ve been training continuously three times a week without breaks since September 2022, and it has worked wonders for my riding and my well-being. It’s not just me who notices it, but also my horse friends and my dressage instructor. I feel so ready to ride my young horse this spring where I turn 50. It is decades ago I have had a youngster, so I was a bit concerned for a while, but not any longer since I feel as fit as when I was young!

I was at a foot specialist and had to do various balance exercises on a soft wobbly cushion. She stopped and looked at me and asked: What are you training? Only trained gymnasts can balance on one leg on that cushion.

That was nice!

Kind regards and thank you!


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.

1 2 3 4 18