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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Juliet Cayzer – New Zealand

Yes, I’ve just finished DRT3!! I didn’t expect to get this far from the start (getting to the end of DRT1 seemed like enough of a mission) but I so enjoyed the regular challenge and ‘discovering’ what the work outs for each week were, so I carried on.

Some of the DRT3 sessions were hard (#4 rider strength, #7 core and those squat jumps in #12 rider strength!) but repeating them before moving on helped a lot. DRT3 followed on beautifully from 1&2 with a similar degree of challenge.

I’m now more fit, strong, supple, balanced, coordinated, and so much better equipped to be an effective rider. I’ll keep it up by repeating the later part of DRT2 then DRT3; it will be interesting to see whether it gets easier over time!

Thanks very much for the program, Nicola, it’s been a great challenge & whilst not always ‘fun’, it sure has been good for me!

Julie Dixon – Nottinghamshire, UK

Hi Nicola,

I have just completed the final week of DRT4.

I will be celebrating my 61st birthday next week and I feel the best I’ve felt for years! I have looked forward to every session and just loved the feeling of getting stronger, fitter and more agile over the weeks (months and years if you go all the way back to when I started DRT1 for the first time).

I am not a dressage rider, but love to get out into the countryside exploring with my horse at home and also riding in other parts of the world whenever I can. I have found the strength, balance and confidence following this programme has given me has made me a better partner for my horse and more able to get the most out of long days in the saddle over all kinds of terrain.

Aside from DRT I attend a yoga class once a week, do lots of walking and have recently started climbing, which is such fun! I feel that all these activities, along with riding and DRT go together so well, each one seems to help the other.

I have really enjoyed the variety and pacing of the programmes and don’t think I would change anything. As you recommend at the end of DRT4 I am now going to restart from week one. I need this programme in my life!

Thank you so much Nicola and team. Your hard work has made such a positive difference in my life – and the lives of many others. Congratulations on creating something so special and for making our time on the mat with you so enjoyable.

Best wishes,

Julie

Gillian Leach

Hi Nicola,

Thank you so much for the DRT series.

Early last year when I was 68, I slipped on the stairs and fractured the transverse process of one of my vertebrae. At that stage I had just started week 11 of the DRT 2 program after several restarts due to work, holidays and injuries. Being a horse-riding addict, my first question was when can I ride again. I was told I shouldn’t ride for 3 months.

I was so glad that I had been doing DRT as my increased core strength really helped my recovery. I went to a physio as soon as I was out of hospital. Many of the exercises he gave me were similar to the DRT exercises.

I started DRT 1 again after 5 weeks and started riding my horse at a walk after 6 weeks.

A year later, I have completed DRT 1, DRT 2 and DRT 3 and feel more flexible and fitter than I did five years ago.

Late last year I was able to buy a beautiful young German Riding Pony and this weekend we completed our first dressage competition together bringing home two ribbons. I hadn’t competed for about 3 years and my ring craft was a bit rusty and we had a couple of green moments, so I was thrilled with the results. I found the Competition Mindset meditations were really helpful in getting me mentally prepared.

With the DRT program I feel confident that I can retain my mobility, balance, and strength to take this special Pony up through the levels.

I really notice an improvement in my flexibility after doing DRT 3.

I am now doing DRT 4 and keeping up with most of the harder options.

Thank you for an amazing program which I hope will keep me riding for many years to come.

Sheila Brown – Illinois, USA

Hi Nicola,

I am very proud to have completed the DRT4 program with you. The last strength workout was quite a challenge, but with your positive and encouraging instruction, I pushed to the finish. It was an emotional moment, especially when you pointed out that we had been training together for a year! One of the great things about this program is that it does feel personal, like one is working out at the lovely home of a friend who is also a fitness expert. It is also fun! I loved seeing Elly visiting in the sessions, the beautiful scenery, horses in the paddocks and the occasional chicken.

DRT4 is definitely more challenging than the earlier programs that provide the foundation. You acknowledged that those of us in DRT4 were committed to improving and had created the strength and ability to meet the challenges. The exercises with alternating limbs and weights require a lot of mental focus and body awareness. Working through them I started to think of myself as a Dressage athlete. I can really feel the improvements in my strength, flexibility, agility and endurance. This has translated to more body awareness and confidence in the saddle and the ability to engage more specific muscles and maintain the right amount of tension. At the beginning of DRT1 I could not do a Hindu squat or balance on hands and knees on the Swiss ball and now I can do both. I still cannot yet balance on my knees on the Swiss ball, but I am working on it. (I do the SB exercises with weights with one knee on the ball and one foot on the floor as a modification). I used to get out of breath during my riding lessons, and now I am able to maintain regular breathing through my nose. I have been doing lots of no-stirrup work and feel much more secure and centered in the saddle than I did a year ago.

I struggle with tight hips from sitting at a desk. The yoga sessions, stretches and foam rolling have made a huge difference in my elasticity. I almost always do a yoga session and often one of the conditioning routines to loosen up and develop mental focus on days that I ride. Some of the yoga routines in DRT4 were difficult (especially the positions involving crossing legs at the knees). However, the modifications you offered made it possible to get the benefits from the poses and I have a goal to work toward in the next round.

I appreciate that you demonstrate different options in the exercises and then encourage trying the more challenging options. This is very effective and I am always inspired to work harder. It is really helpful to have safe option to ease off or do slower repetitions to focus on form.

I plan to repeat DRT3 and 4 and look forward to continuing on my journey as a Dressage athlete. The DRT program has really helped me to improve my riding ability and mental focus and made me a better partner to my beautiful horse.

Thank you!

Best regards,

Sheila Brown

Mary – Illinois, USA

Hello, Nicola, I’m so pleased with the DRT program! I completed, then repeated, DRT1. I did every workout, read every educational resource, and listened to every meditation. You are so positive and encouraging. I am stronger, more flexible, more balanced and more mobile. I not only did the riding homework, but started riding bareback. I’m a more confident rider. I tell my horse and non-horse friends alike about the program. I look forward to starting DRT2 next week.

Last summer Lena and I won the World Championship in Novice Amateur Showmanship-at-Halter at the American Ranch Horse Association World Show. This is the photo from that show. I’ve had Lena for 8 years; she’s a great little mare. Just bragging on her a little… In addition to showmanship, I show in several different riding classes in ARHA. I also show in western dressage. With DRT, I’m doing my part to make us a better team.

Sincerely,
Mary

Janet Mcmanus – Virginia, USA

I have truly enjoyed DRT 3. I found it challenging at times, and have had to go back and repeat a couple of tough weeks in the middle as I didn’t feel I had done them correctly the first time. I know I am stronger, and while the flexibility doesn’t come as far or as fast as I would like, it is better than most women my age (57) and it is slowly getting better.

As of today, I have just one more workout left in DRT 3. I plan to do it tomorrow. I have really appreciated the program and I know that it has helped my riding – and my overall strength.

As DRT 3 was such a challenge, I’ve opted to buy the thumb drive version of DRT 3 and go through the entire DRT 3 program one more time. I know I will continue to get benefits from repeating the work, and I will be more prepared to step up to DRT 4, which I plan to do this fall, or next January at the latest.

Thanks for providing such a great program.

Janet

Cushla Fitzwater – Manawatu-Wanganui, NZ

I’ve just finished DRT2 and have developed an awareness of where my body is and what it’s doing that I never thought was possible. I used to feel like each arm and leg had a mind of its own and I had no control over where they went! Now I not only know when they’re wandering off but I can fix it before my poor trainer has to tell me – again about an errant limb.

I had an injury to my hip about 15 years ago that I had done some rehab on initially but would still get up and limp off for a bit before I could walk normally – I didn’t realise how much that was restricting my pony and I felt I constantly had to fix her up for drifting. She’s really pleased that I am now “fixed up” as I had no idea it was me causing the issue – just one of the things I’ve had to apologise to her for I now have no constriction in my hip – so much better for life in general.

When I started DRT1 I often got a cramp somewhere when I was attempting to do one of the moves – that was if I could get there in the first place, now that rarely happens. And I can usually keep pace with Nicola When I did DRT1 I did the 12 weeks then repeated it, with DRT2 I decided to repeat the 4 week blocks which Nicola has conveniently broken it into along with doing the Cathedral Cove Yoga on alternate days which has worked really well for me – I love listening to the waves.

I feel better in myself as well as in my riding – am really looking forward to doing DRT3 later in the year.

Cheers
Cushla

Annemarie Yoder DVM

My first 2 schooling shows have gone extremely well and I can thank DRT 4 , Nicola and my patient coach for getting us to this point. All winter I showed up 3 times per week and it made a world of difference in my riding. My incredible horse thanks you, my coach thanks you and I am eternally grateful for your expertise.

Terri Oliver – Guerneville, USA

Hello Nicola,
I loved DRT4. The ability to take on the workouts each week was very motivating. I feel much stronger. My trainer complimented me on improvements in strength and endurance in the saddle. And she does not hand those out very often.

This whole program from DRT1 to DRT4 has provided me with more than just physical benefits but mental ones, too. I’ve gained confidence and calm focus through all the aspects of my life.

Of all the workouts, my favorite and MOST beneficial is the yoga mobility. I do sessions at least 4 times a week. They are now as much of a part of preparing for a ride as grooming and tacking up. These sessions have helped me stay “in the moment” with my horse, which contributes to our strong partnership.

I’m grateful for having found DRT and I’m looking forward to DRT 5 or whatever is next.

Thank you
Terri

Nancy Martin – Calgary, Canada

While my career had been on pause, my riding certainly hasn’t! I’ve recently restarted DRT1 as I was experiencing lower back pain that was negatively impacting my life…and riding! My riding has been sporadic these past few years due to either my injuries (pelvic fractures due to a horse) & scoliosis, my horse’s injuries & rehab or moving between Canada and the USA. My last job had me at the computer 8-10 hrs a day and my back/neck was paying the price. I’d signed up with my health insurance’s App-based PT program, and the exercises were hauntingly familiar, so I ditched the App and started DRT1 again.

I was astonished how my flexibility and core muscles had declined, and while I had to do some modifications at the start, in just the 1st 4 weeks of DRT1 the changes in my riding, strength and flexibility were significant! By committing to just 20 min each day, my hips got looser, my upper back became more relaxed and best of all, my riding improved as a result. I was able to open the hip angle, sit up straight, and maintain the position throughout my ride. I’ve combined your teachings with what I’m learning through the Dressage Mastery Academy and swear my horse has been saying “FINALLY”! I’m able to give her more support from the saddle and keep us both in alignment.

I can’t thank you enough for these programs! I’m so glad to have access to your programs (DRT 1&2) and am grateful for the life-time access. This is my hobby and sometimes life gets in the way and we stop doing the things we should, which is why I’m happy to have your DRT programs at my disposal. I use the foam rollers and have been scooping up the additional content you’ve provided.

Why do I love DRT?
Well…..as most of us age, we find ourselves less active than before. Sure, we may still be active, but I’m not as aggressive in my activities in my mid-50s as I was in my 20s, 30s and 40s. There are other medical reason for my slowing down – congenital scoliosis, disc degeneration, trauma to pelvis/hip (riding accident), etc. – all of which are helped by remaining active. Yoga is fantastic, as is strength training, so the DRT programs are a perfect combination!
Many beginners to dressage are so focused on the riding that they overlook the fact that they too must also be in shape. It’s not just the horse that has to build up strength, but also the rider. This is why I feel your DRT programs are so great….the exercises are focused on the muscles & flexibility needed for riding plus the aspect of recovery.

MJ Friedrich – Illinois, USA

Hi Nicola,

I’ve been waiting for my trainer to send a good photo of me with my buddy, Mack, the 26-year-old quarter horse who I have a half lease on. I still don’t have a recent photo, but I’ve attached a video of me and Mack doing a little circuit last week.

I’ve been riding Mack for the last year and a half, after 30 years of being out of the saddle. He’s the most trustworthy of mounts and I love him dearly. I don’t like to push him, but he’s a former competitor who loves to jump. I rode when I was young—my grandfather raised thoroughbred racehorses until I was about 9–but I never had many lessons and never did any jumping. Just I just rode any horse I could and hung on!

Once I started riding again at 60 I was dedicated myself to learning to ride as correctly as I could. I realized immediately that I needed to be as fit as possible. I’ve been able to stay in shape throughout my life by running. In the last few years, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve pivoted from running to spinning and barre workouts. Your program has really built on this workout routine and massively helped me to refine it to achieve the balance and strength needed for riding and jumping. I particularly love the yoga sessions, as that has been missing from my fitness routine, but all 3 aspects of DRT complement each other so beautifully that I hesitate to highlight one over the other 2.

And I must call out the Swiss ball exercises—especially balancing on the ball. I have been able to do all the exercises you’ve introduced, but balancing on that ball was my nemesis in DRT1. I never got the hang of it until DRT2. Somehow, when you introduced it again it wasn’t as hard as the first go round and now I can do every exercise while balancing! I am still shocked that in DRT1 that I didn’t puncture the darn ball and say “uncle,” but I’m really glad I didn’t!!

I just finished up DRT2-–life got in the way—but I’m ready to start DRT3 tomorrow and can’t wait!!

Thank you for these fantastic programs. The exercises are challenging and varied but through it all your kind words of encouragement and support keep me going.

Best,

MJ Friedrich

Sharon Rayne – Darfield, New Zealand

I have absolutely loved doing DRT1! As I get older (I’m 57) I know I have to make a conscious effort to keep in shape and my goal is to keep enjoying riding and being active for the next 20 years. After doing DRT1, I feel stronger in my core, more balanced and more flexible than I have for years. The workouts are short and varied and I find them easy to fit into my day. Nicola is so positive and explains every exercise so well, its like having my own personal trainer in the living room. Her warmth and enthusiasm is infectious, I find myself smiling at the end of each session! I haven’t quite tamed the swiss ball yet, but I’m confident I will, then I’ll truly know I’ve come a long way! Thank you Nicola for developing such a fun program that makes a real difference in peoples lives, roll on DRT2!

Bernice Blair – Washington, USA

Hi Nicola,

Last summer, with only 2 DRT 4 sessions left (week 12 yoga and strength), I took a tumble from my bicycle and broke my collarbone. After months of recovery and PT, I restarted DRT with the HPF program (modified to accommodate my weakened right shoulder/arm) and am thrilled to report that today I FINALLY finished DRT 4.

I cannot thank you enough for this program. I started with DRT 1 just before the pandemic lockdown hit and you have seen me through Covid, 2 hand surgeries, a broken collarbone, my 60th birthday, and 2 horse surgeries. On the days when I just didn’t want to, I repeated your mantra – it’s just 20 minutes – and pulled out the mat. And always felt better for it.

I look forward to repeating these programs and seeing your cheerful face encouraging me (and all your other followers) to keep at it and keep getting 1% better!

Jacqueline Graham

Love the program(s) have helped tremendously in tightening my core and overall riding strength.

Here is a pic of me and my Percheron thoroughbred Ivy
Ps I am 65 years young

Susan Fogarty

I recently completed the DRT 1 program. It was so helpful in targeting the areas I was weakest, and developing the areas I needed to strengthen. The emphasis on core strength was especially useful. It is too easy to become complacent in daily routines! Just because we move all day doesn’t mean we’re developing the correct muscles to ride correctly! This was a huge help & I’m looking forward to the next phase!

Marlene McGrath – Virginia, USA

As I finish up with DRT 4 (which made me feel like I was ramping up the strength factor) I can’t imagine life without the DRT program at this point! I’ve gone back a couple of times and done sessions of DRT 1 just to see if I can clearly feel a difference in myself from the very beginning of this journey to the end. At the beginning of DRT 1, I wasn’t sure if I could do it … but quickly became obsessed with wanting to achieve.

The physical difference I feel in myself between the start of DRT 1 and end of DRT 4 is something I wish I could convince others of, that this journey is well worth it. The better balance and strength you will obtain absolutely translates to better riding. The movements that seem so hard at the beginning become easier, while still making you feel like you are improving. I plan to keep membership in the DRT program so I can repeat random sessions all through DRT 1, 2, 3 and 4, and also explore all the other great things you have made available on the website.

Thank you so much for creating this amazing program!!

Marlene (and my horse Prince thanks you too!)

Kate butling – Samobor, Croatia

I am am ex professional rider. 44yrs old. Now working as a chef on a yacht! Just bought my first baby horse in 12 yrs in preparation for going back to land and pro-riding training in the next 2 yrs. But still at the moment only ride in the winter months. Your training system is perfect for me as I can continue my riding fitness and hit the ground running when I finally get back to land!

Robbie Greenslade – Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

Nicola, let me tell you a secret. I HATE the term ‘perch’ when it is used to describe a forward tilted seat in riding. My much admired trainer discovered this and has sed it to great advantage for quite some time to get me to quickly sit up straighter. Let me tell you another secret, completing DRT2 has meant that I haven’t heard that term at all this year! I still get the occasional “Sit on your BUM” but the ‘p’ word seems to have left the vocabulary coming through the headset. YAAAY!!! I am finding that with the help of DRT2 I have started to open my hips more when riding, I am becoming more balanced in the saddle, and am able to better balance my horse. There is a looong way still to go, but I really notice the difference in my riding as do other people. Thank you to you and Ben for encouraging me to take the step to take on DRT2 even though I had muddled my way only partially through DRT1. I love the ‘bite sized’ work outs, I enjoy sharing time with you in the mornings (even the ‘cherries’ are something to look forward to in terms of challenge) I managed to finish both DRT1 and 2 this year, and my horse is thanking me for the efforts. Thank you for your inspirational and effective programs!

Caryn – Oregon, USA

Greetings Nicola! I want to start out by saying I’m a long- time participant in your programs. I started out initially watching and doing your introductory stretching/yoga exercises. Then, I took the first commitment leap when I signed up for and completed DRT1. From there, I completed DRT2, DRT3, and am now on HPF looking forward to DRT4. With the structure of your programs I have become more fit for riding than ever before in my life. DRT3 has emphasized the need for upper body strength, upper body posture and the importance of diagonal fascia strength, as well as continuing core rider strength, yoga, and rider strength exercises which have improved my riding immensely. I have made daily exercising a part of my routine. And, my horse thanks you for giving me a more supple and warmed up body before we start our sessions! At 78 years old, I attribute much of my athletic readiness to your programs. Thank you.

Berney Graham – Massachusetts, USA

Hi Nicola,
I’m writing to you with a picture of the horse I ride and a story of my DRT journey. I owned horses as a kid and raised a wonderful Lippitt Morgan from a foal of 4 months old He was just lovely. He has long since passed. I’ve been riding all my life except during the time I was raising my family, but I’m fully back at it now these past 12 years. The picture is of a little Connemara gelding owned by Pine Tree Equestrian Center in Beverly, Massachusetts USA. I do not own a horse now, although I’d love to, it’s just not in the budget, so I take lessons. The little Connemara is named Black Brook’s Kyote and he is the closest horse I’ve found to perfect! He’s a school horse who loves his job, loves people. He loves to event and especially jumping and XC, and he’s trained to a very high level in dressage. We went to two shows last year and I came in first in both!! Unfortunately for me, he’s old; now 24 and his owners have decided to retire him from competition. Certainly that’s understandable. I’m very sad that I didn’t get to ride him more in shows, but I still ride him and I will be riding other horses in competition.

Now for the great part! I LOVE DRT.! You have to understand that I’m now 72 soon to be 73 and your program has taught me more about riding than anything that I have done before!!!! My current instructor loves dressage and has been working with me diligently throughout the winter to improve my position. I was pretty much a self taught rider and with that, all the mistakes of same. Because of your program, I now understand SO much more about my body, the necessary muscles to ride; where they are, from psoas to lats and hamstrings to triceps, which ones need to be braced (like core muscles) to ride well and which need to be neutral (like the spine and shoulders and arms). I would describe myself as strong with good endurance, because I work out on a regular basis, but what I didn’t realize is that I was quite inflexible. Some of this I think is genetic. I’ve never been able to touch my toes for instance, nor can other members of my family; however, working on that flexibility has been an absolute game changer. Also, my balance is SO much better because I now understand where my body is in space and time and on the horse, making his job so much easier. I’ve never found an exercise program specifically for riding and yours is top notch! You taught me where my seat bones are, for example and how to keep them even. And, I have never done Yoga before, nor did I think I ever could, however, I tried it and I have come to LOVE it! I’m not great at it, but I keep doing it, knowing that it all helps and that I’ll get to a place where it all works for me and it’s doing just that. So, basically, your program, combined with a dedicated trainer and some very patient and talented horses, I’m learning more than I ever thought possible.

Right now, I’m doing your DRT program again; now in week 4 as well as the Cathedral Yoga. I’m so glad that I found this program. It’s come as at a perfect time for me and I hope it helps me to keep riding for many years to come. I plan to compete this year in low level eventing 3 phase events and I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Thank you for the time you’ve taken to put together such a thorough and thoughtful program!

Yes, I’m an eventer and I jump, but without the correct balance found in dressage, jumping does not go as well without this important foundation. This training will keep me and my horse safe over fences as well, because good balance is needed in all aspects of riding well. Thank you Nicola. Keep up the good work and all the best to you!

Jamie Cearley – Alabama, USA

I first started DRT1 in January of 2020. It took me 12 weeks to make it through week 4. I did this by repeating each week over and over until I could do it somewhat comfortably (keyword “somewhat”). I then had a bad accident on my horse in May 2020 fracturing C3, C4, L4 and L1. After graduating from PT where we discussed the DRT1 program in great detail as I saw it as a way to continue regaining my fitness and strength I began the program again. Much to my amazement I was able to complete through week 4 this time in just 4 weeks. I went on to complete the program in just over the 12 weeks (had to repeat a week here and there) finishing it in November of 2021 just 4 months after being released from PT. By this time I was fully committed to continuing with DRT2. During the month in between finishing 1 and 2 opening for registration I repeated the last phase of DRT1 this time taking some of the more challenging options. I am thrilled to say I have now completed DRT2 straight through in 12 weeks. Amazing. I have not been this flexible, balanced and strong in years. I am now working on getting back to riding and discovering things I never observed or recognized before in my 13 years of horse riding. My balance, technique, feel, and athleticism have all brought big Ah ha moments in just the few rides I have had since my accident. I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to feel better and thrive in life, whether it is on a horse or simply doing whatever else you love.

Janet Peters – Monmouthshire, UK

I have thoroughly enjoyed DRT2 even though it was challenging at times, especially towards the end.
However I did manage to complete all the moves every week, which gave me a huge sense of achievement. And when my coach asked what I had been doing to improve my core so much, I was over the moon!

Vicky Hammond- Winton, New Zealand

Hi Nicola, I decided to enroll in DRT2 after having previously completed DRT1 twice. I loved the convenience of working out to the USB stick plugged into my TV at home, and being able to work through the levels at my own pace. The program has definitely helped with my flexibility and endurance in and out of the saddle, and I’m now not huffing and puffing half way through a dressage lesson as everything is just so much easier. I do still have lots to work on and improve in my workouts, so I plan to work through DRT2 again over the Winter before considering if I’m ready for DRT3. I highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to improve their strength and flexibility in any riding discipline. @retired_newzealand_eventer

Lucy Mckelvie – Wyndham, New Zealand

I came to the DRT program because I wanted to more fully embrace the two Cs I felt were lacking in my riding life: feeling control over my journey and growing my confidence in and out of the saddle. Having completed DRT1 several times I felt the time was right to move onto DRT2. I’m so thrilled to report that DRT2 has helped me to achieve those outcomes… and more!

How has it helped me to feel more in control?
I really look forward to my weekly ‘Nicola email’ which outlines the exercises and expectations each week. I like the feeling that whilst I am doing it in my own living room, there are in fact other riders in exactly the same position as me. The fact that the routines themselves are no more than 20 minutes works well as, like many, I juggle a variety of responsibilities. It feels good knowing that I can make positive changes in three twenty minute sessions. It feels entirely achievable and this helps me to feel in control. I feel empowered to take ownership… because it really is do-able.

How has my confidence increased?
As I feel more secure in the saddle, my confidence to ‘ride the horse’ has increased. Be it riding without stirrups or dealing with a spook out hacking: I’ve noticed that my balance has increased dramatically during DRT2. I honestly believe that this leads me to ‘want’ to sit up that little bit straighter… I can also feel myself breathe and smile much more! It’s affirming when your trainer notices an improvement: these extrinsic positives become big motivators, spurring me on to try a little more in my next session.

All of this has led me to feel more capable. As a plus size rider in a sport of teeny-tiny bodies, this sport can be daunting. The DRT2 program (especially) has encouraged me to think positively about the small changes we can make and then see/feel each week.

I honestly cannot recommend this program enough. If you’re on the fence about signing up: back yourself. You can do it! Because, trust me, if I can anyone can.

Stephanie Belisle – St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Canada

Hi Nicola, here are my highlights from this DRT3 program.
First : my awareness – because my body is more supple and stronger, I have improved my balance in the saddle and noticed I have additional channels of communication with the horse I ride since I can more subtle.

Second : my fluidity – in my day-to-day life as well as in my riding moments, I feel so good in how I move, how I breathe and how I stand.

And lastly : my reaction time – the different exercises involving plyometrics have paid and now I trust I can sustain an elastic posture no matter what the horse is doing, no matter how long I ride, no matter what is going on.

I am amazed with the progress I have made so far. It has been a rewarding journey. I am ready for DRT4.

Thanks a lot

Susan Everett – North Carolina, USA

Dear Nicola,

Your program has made a big improvement in my riding ability. I am 66 years old and currently riding once @ week – returning to riding after a 30+ year layoff. I quickly realized my mind remembered so much more than my body! I hoped DRT1 would help me address my biggest problems – upper body position and moving my legs independently and it did more than I hoped.

I have a significant amount of arthritis in my upper back and neck, and I haven’t kept up with my strength training since the pandemic began. After 12 weeks of DRT1, I have a much stronger upper body now due to the homework stretches and workouts. I love how you give different difficulty levels in each workout. I certainly needed extra weeks to work my way up to the more challenging options in every workout.

My second big problem was re-learning how to isolate and move different parts of my body without moving anything else! Once again, the workouts are targeted to help me in this very area.

Like many of your other participants, I have lowered my stirrups at least twice as my leg strength and balance improved. Just last week, my trainer suggested it’s time to drop them another hole! Here’s a picture of me on my favorite lesson horse Jasper before the longer stirrup length. Still working on getting my shoulders back – but they are a lot better thanks to DRT1.

These improvements have come without completing all the phases of DRT1 – yet. The DRT group has been so supportive of us who need extra time to advance through the workouts. The Facebook group and your encouragement has kept me working out every week and repeating weeks as necessary. Why? Because you tell me how this exercise or movement is going to impact my riding. To me that is the biggest key to success. I can directly apply what you have us do with my riding, and I want to be a better rider.

I ordered the thumb drive since I have lousy internet service in my rural home. Even though DRT1 has officially finished, I am still working out (core, yoga, and strength) every week… slowly working my way through the weeks as my body allows. I am more flexible, stronger, and have more stamina than I have been in years. Thank you for this wonderful program.

Heidi Wells – West Richland, USA

I have really noticed a difference in my ability to stay with the horses when they move quickly and I feel I have better independent aids. My stability and endurance are much improved. I ride 2 horses and the one that has bigger movement (Hanoverian cross) was a challenge to ride, especially sitting trot. About midway through dressage Rider Training 1, I was pleasantly surprised that I could sit her trot for more than a few steps! I am so pleased I found this program and Nicola is wonderful at encouraging me to keep going and at explaining the exercises. I am definitely planning on continuing with DRT 2! Thank you Nicola!

Jacqueline Marianna Kelton – Canada

Hi Nicola,

I started this program for two reasons:

I felt stuck in my riding ability and decided I would try to do everything I could to improve myself and my fitness to help my riding
I had just bought a baby warmblood and she is equal parts athletic and dramatic and didn’t want to get hurt in the event that we parted company
This program really helped me identify where my weakness were and helped me figure out where things were gong wrong in my riding because of those weaknesses. I feel stronger and fitter and more confident in the saddle and my ability to ride the way that I know I can.

I am an eventer from Canada and I’ve been riding for almost 20 years and I feel like this program is my secret weapon that I have going on and I am definitely going to try and get my friends at the barn involved as well!

I can’t wait for DRT2!

Paula Preschlack – Illinois, USA

Nicola, the program REALLY helped me get stronger and more balanced as a rider, but also just to have better posture and to feel more fit physically, too. It was so great to just have three 20 minute workouts each week. I loved that one was core, one yoga and one fitness. Even though I am currently riding hunters – not dressage- the workouts were tailored for riding, which is something I’ve never quite been able to do on my own. Going to the gym or running just never seemed to help my time in the saddle and I often felt frustrated at how out of shape I felt on course at a show, even though I was working out a lot. But this course was the game changer for me! Working on the specific muscles and balance that translates directly to riding, paid off. By the end of the course, I could go in the ring four rounds in a row, in the heat, and come out without gasping for breath or feeling weak. I’m so grateful for the motivation, your upbeat attitude and the nudge to prepare better for working with my horse. At the end of your course, I won a blue ribbon on my very last day in Wellington, which was a beautiful way to celebrate! Here’s me and “Cheeky”. I would recommend your courses to anyone, and I look forward to doing more! This kind of rider preparation is really lacking amongst amateurs. But for a short investment, it makes riding even more enjoyable and rewarding!

Nicola Marshall – Wellington, New Zealand

DRT 1 was fantastic, but I was a bit nervous about DRT 2. I knew we would build on the previous work, and I wondered if I could hack it. I didn’t need to worry, it just built seamlessly on, with clever exercises utilising the dynamic programme to really maximise the 20 minute routine. There is plenty of information, more about why we need strength and flexibility, and with the homework it has had an amazing impact on my riding. I am 63 and have had a long break of about 40 years. I have a fabulous coach, but to really improve, I needed to work a lot on my own strength. This programme is very safe, Nicola talks and walks us through everything, no guilt but plenty of encouragement. I aspire to ride Dressage, but just doing Riding Tests for now, and fun riding, but I get a real kick out of the Facebook group, extremely supportive too, and doing really amazing riding.

Annika Pohl – Linköping, Sweden

Dear Nicola! I have much out of all the three programs and experience that my body do the riding better in several ways. I sit better, the balance have improved and I also think my posure has changed. DRT3 was especially good with the condition routine. I also like the time-thing on core and rider strength. I then know what is happening next. My upper body has got more in this last program. The intervals are a challenge but improves the normal running and I am glad that is in the program.
I do every program about three times, so I have started my second time now. I have always, thank God, a good and kind body doing mostly what I want. But now at 61years it is even better.
I am glad to hear that you have also a DRT4. Ben has been so helpful when I have had questions. You are a good team what I can see from Sweden.
Thankyou!

Camille Guyot – Switzerland

Hi Nicola! I really enjoyed taking part in the DRT3 Programm. As a professional rider, mother of 2 children, I do not often have the time to go to the gym on a regular basis. Being able to do my gym when I want is really a bonus. But I also appreciate your weekly emails, it makes me feel that I am not alone, and it motivates me not to miss class!

I feel DRT3 is the right continuation of the other 2 programs, and it does not feel redundant or boring, as you always find ways of changing or finding new exercises.

Thanks a lot! looking forward to DRT4 now!
Best regards,
Camille

Kestine Kenny – ACT, Australia

Thank you Nicola for sharing your program. What a difference it has made to my riding and the response from my horse.

I had returned to riding after a long stint out. I got back into the saddle thinking I could pick up from where I left. Well you all know the outcome of that thought process.

I found a fabulous 5yo Friesian X Mare to recommence my riding journey, what a shock that was! As beautiful as my Mare is, she is a very strong willed, independent, you know what! So our journey starts and to begin with it goes well….. 6 months into the journey things start to fall apart as to be expected. It was rough, I was an emotional mess and was doubting my ability and my confidence was depleted. Then I found DRT..

Nicola, this program is absolutely brilliant, and to be honest I only do the bare minimum so I can only imagine where I would be if I did the homework. I cannot explain but my attitude, fitness, strength, confidence, health (i do use your recipes and grave my daily green smoothie) mind set, balance, you name it has improved. I can ride again, we are slowly increasing our jumping height and my mare is responding to me in such a positive way.

I’m only an amateur but I love what this program has done and allowed me to experience. I am so grateful! I’ll be going onto DRT 3 and I must say the time between where I do take a break I notice my fitness decline.

Your program is second to none! Thank you for allowing me to take this journey and really enjoy my passion!! My advice to those thinking about it is JUST DO IT (am I allowed to say that 😂)

Thank you Nicola, I absolutely love DRT!!

Tracy Dalzell – Northland, NZ

I’ve really enjoyed what I have learnt from the programme and the benefits it provides in making me a stronger and more flexible rider with better balance. In the first week I had a light bulb moment through an exercise which helped me realise what one coach has tried to get through for years with regards to position. This is now something I will incorporate into every day habits in order to help both my horses and myself become a stronger team.

Darcy Hambleton – British Columbia

Hi Nicola this program has helped me immensely! My horse is a bit spooky before the program I had trouble staying in the saddle now I can sit just about anything he throws at me . I feel better have lost some weight and above all I am fitter than I have been in a long time! So thank you it’s been a godsend I am going to repeat DRT 1 again before moving on and looking forward to it!
Thanks so much!

Sharon Burt – Florida, USA

Hi Nicola, just wanted to thank you for producing and helping me through the DRT Programmes.
I completed DRT1 during lockdown and went on to DRT2 but had to stop as we moved back to UK after 20 years in USA. It was a huge and difficult move with all our worldly good and animals during the covid era, but as soon as life was on an even keel I got back on the DRT wagon.
I redid DRT1 and restarted DRT2 and I’m delighted I just finished it.
I think it’s a great programme, being mid 60s I think it is helping make me strong and flexible enough so I can keep riding. It is also great that you can stop or repeat to suit what’s happening in your life. The Facebook page is very supportive with other people going through similar things to you giving you the help and support you need to keep going.
I’m now repeating one of the yoga programmes while I wait for DRT3!

Lisa Capaldini – California, USA

I can’t praise this modular exercise program enough – it’s effective, efficient, progressive, and designed to be individualized for each student.  I do dressage lessons and trail rides and am a pretty diligent rider – I found that there were things I was trying to improve where I was just stuck.  A friend suggested Nicola’s training system and I saw results right away — so did my teacher!  I’m  honestly not sure if it gave me new/better muscles or simply better access to muscles I had but my riding feels much more balanced, relaxed, and effective.  As a 66 year-old who has never been very flexible I was a bit apprehensive about the yoga component, and his that was hard for me and exactly what I needed.  And as a bit of a control freak it was important to me that the time I was putting in generated results – that’s an undersatement – this program has been transformational for my riding, my body, and my awareness.  It has been challenging but in the best way – for each exercise I can either take it easier or push myself and that has translated into sustained improvement.  I think you and my horses thank you!!

Carol Alonso – California

The 12-week DRT program was a great Christmas present to myself. I had taken more than a year off from riding and competing in dressage due to COVID, because most of the riders in my barn are young and I’m older. When I resumed after vaccination, I found that my strength and fitness had withered away; I could not ride more than 15 minutes of dressage lessons without getting sore and tired. So I did DRT, and week by week my fitness and balance improved so that now, at the end of the 12 weeks, I am riding one, sometimes two, horses daily in normal dressage workouts. I plan to compete again this summer, starting Second Level USA. In 2017 (see photo) I celebrated my US Century Ride (sum of ages of horse and rider must exceed 100 in a judged USDF test). I am grateful that DRT is helping me to keep riding and competing in dressage even at age 80. My goal is to do a Century Ride when I’m 100!

Cindy Cavell – Haymarket, USA

Thank you so much for the exercises, homework and articles in DRT3! I finally finished it last week. Taking a week off and diving back into DRT2 for a second time on Monday.

Oddly, I found DRT3 to be a bit easier on my 67-year old body than DRT2 J Other than the sprints, which I really can’t do, as my knees are shot (I substitute an exercise bike for the running/jogging), I felt that DRT3 was more yoga-forward than DRT2, which (to me) was more strength and stamina-forward.

The exercises completely dovetail with my coach’s teaching methods (pull your lats/armpits down to stabilize yourself, bear down with your core, and quit making so much noise with your legs). I have found that DRT3 has given me the ability to utilize my “sitting surface” to sit the trot far more effectively, and keep myself upright in the saddle (at 5’4”, I’m used to riding the big guys, and was tending to get behind the vertical in the saddle to try to give myself more leverage) and stay in harmony with the horse.

The other thing that the exercises gave me was better reaction time. As an engineer, I have a bad habit of analyzing everything to death before I do it, which goes into my riding as well – I think too long about an action/reaction and don’t just “do”. These exercises helped be quicker and just do it rather than think.

You are an amazing young woman, and we think you’re the best, even when you’re killing us. Keep up the fantastic work – I’ve been doing exercises from video for nearly 30 years, and your programs are by far the best I’ve ever experienced! You clearly put an enormous amount of thought and effort in to them. Cheers to Ben as well, and all of the animals!

Nai Vanderwoude – Barmera, Australia

Dearest Nicola, thank you for your wonderful program.

Thank you for the numerous options within each exercise. Some days just getting through the 20 minutes using the gentler options was a feat for me, but it gave me something to focus on other than having a brain tumour.

I love the way, as the weeks go by, I could use different muscles independently from each other so much easier (I even came across a few muscles I never knew I had…lol).

I love how the program helped me become more aware of where I was holding tension (think shoulders up around ears!) and those times when I was holding my breath (seriously, what is with that ?)

During the last few weeks of your programme I was able to get back in the saddle and what a totally glorious moment that was! I’m going to go back over the 12 weeks and add in some of the exercises I wasn’t able to do while not being able to ride and also add in some of the harder options.

Thanks again

Mariann Jakobsen – Danmark

I have enjoyed DRT3 – and really felt the strength growing in my core. I love the variety of exercises – and the fact that the exercises can be done on different levels.

I managed to do DRT3 with a knee injury – and kept myself going (more than a year) – and the training is keeping me happy and fit – my horse love the “new me” – loads of energy and happy moments while doing the training.

For some reason the training and the articles – was like a puzzle – and along the way – the “puzzle” got finalized. So the change is overwhelming – also in relation to a stressful job.

It is a change of lifestyle – and now being able to enjoy life much more – without being so worried about what other people/do or whatever. Strongest person ever – and loving every minute with my horse – regardless of what we train.

Juliet Cayzer – Palmerston North, NZ

It feels good to have completed DRT2! I didn’t expect to accomplish that when I started DRT1, it’s amazing and encouraging to see what persistence can accomplish. Despite being in my 50’s I was even able to take on the ‘and if you want more’ options. A number of my family members (even the young ones!) have injuries-and their physios tell them they need to strengthen their gluteals or hamstrings or adductors or core muscles. When I hear that I empathise-and think thankful thoughts about the DRT program that works on all of those muscles. It’s a fabulous program for rider training (and that’s still my motivation for continuing with it) but it helps with plenty of other activities too.

Sarah Sing – Hong Kong

Thank you very much for the DRT program it has helped my riding a lot. I find that my balance and stamina is so much better now. Today I was moving some jump wings and poles (for lunge jumping) and noticed that I carried them with ease!!

Pamela Langenberg – Victoria, Australia

Hi Nicola

I loved DRT4 – I found it challenging enough that I have already started back on week one this week with the intention of doing the tougher challenges with more weight.

DRT 4 has been better that the others in that in 20 minutes I found I am really working up a sweat for the core and rider strength days and really settling into to the yoga (which I may add I was a nay sayer for yoga at the very beginning!). Now I can’t wait for the lovely relaxing stretches.

Overall I am most definitely stronger and fitter than at the beginning.

Thank you for creating these wonderful programs – cant wait for DRT5.

Amy Grahn – South Carolina, USA

Hi Nicola,

Attached is a picture of myself and Hudson 18. We showed I1 last year. Your program has helped my seat be deeper and more independent. Because my seat is now properly positioned my legs are more effective- try riding with 90% seat and leg using hands as a modifier.

I have a new I1 freestyle I plan to show this season.

Thank you for your program, I continue to use it almost every day!

All the best,
Amy


Kym Casterton – Ramarama, New Zealand

Hi Nicola and Ben, I would like to sincerely thank you for the DRT3 programme!!!

I’ve found DRT3 a great natural step up from DRT1 and DRT2. The addition of working on fascial lines, plyometrics, reaction times, strength (both core and overall) and general cardio fitness have been SO beneficial to me, and my horse Janna has really benefitted. I think she enjoys watching me with my leg up in the air etc when doing the 5min pre ride exercises!

Another benefit of DRT3 is that I now set goals with tasks – short term, medium term and long term, and doing off-horse training is now a part of my ongoing development.

My husband really enjoys doing the yoga sessions with me and gets great benefits as he works hard on the farm, and often gets sore lower back/tight hips etc.

Again, thank you so much, and also to Ben for the extra support!

Robin Felton – Georgia, USA

The program has been the most important tool to improving my riding other than actually riding! My flexibility has completely turned around and my core is stronger than ever.

DRT1 starts a great foundation to improving core strength and finding “how flexible” you are, then the exercises help expand it. DRT2 adds onto the foundation from DRT1 and further helps expand your flexibility. Whatever joint issues you have there’s always an option to participate in the workout. If you started developing good habits with DRT1 then it’s easy to keep at it as you progress – progression for me was SO obvious when I rode. I couldn’t always complete homework but I made sure I got my workouts in – even if they weren’t on an ideal schedule.

I was apprehensive to go right into DRT3 but felt like it would keep me motivated. I started repeating DRT2 between the new DRT3 workouts and felt like this was a good situation for me. I tried to keep the weeks the same because the programs work together. I think it was a good choice. I sprained my knee during DRT3 but was able to keep up with modifications. The way each DRT program “flows” together is great and doesn’t over power you.

I love the DRT program – it’s been so good for me physically and mentally. Nicola is so supportive and reassuring throughout the workouts and the extra emails, homework, etc. I find it boosts my confidence to do the pre-ride stretch so I can hold Nicola’s voice in my head and know that “we’ve done it all already”!
I also have learned a great deal about how the muscles work. This has helped a great deal with my own stuff joint issues.

Who doesn’t love when Elly or Lucy participate in the workouts?! I hope I’ve covered all the best of DRT. Other members at my barn and my trainer have all noticed how far I’ve come and plan on starting the program. I hope they do and I can’t wait to start on DRT4 – is there one? For now, it’s repeat 2 and 3 concurrently. Thanks so much!!

Karen Bahrman – Skandia, USA

Hi Nicola, I really liked this program. I am a longtime endurance rider who has recently gotten interested in dressage as well. Wish I had done so earlier as so many riders have no tools other than the bit – the horse pulls and the rider pulls back, and both enjoyment and longevity suffer. But, given where I live I do not attempt to ride in the winter (and at 65 it’s harder to get back into it every spring) and I think this program has helped me stay more flexible. I like how all the workouts are different and how you relate things back to riding. I did find pre-watching them over morning coffee to be helpful as then I knew what was coming and didn’t fall behind as much. Here is photo of my current horse and I doing an intro test at a schooling show – he is a Morgan and my first non-Arab ever.

Becky Auker – Oregon, USA

I am on the left on my horse in a parade, just after a rain. DRT1 has helped to improve my strength and balance and become more focused on my evenness while riding. I’ve completed all of the workouts but not necessarily at the highest levels. Some I could do but many I could not. I enjoyed Nicola’s enthusiasm and relating the exercises to riding even though I ride western. I plan to continue with DRT as I’ve realized how helpful it’s been for me. I’m 68 and I hope to keep riding for many years.
Thank you, Nicola.

Steph Bradley

Hi Nicola,

I haven’t completed it yet as I had covid then norovirus !!

But I can say that I can now get on my horse immediately without having to sit at the back I the saddle until my hips “give”.

I can sit deeper and don’t feel achy after riding. And I’m able to dismount easier.

Given I have advanced hip arthritis where a replacement is the only solution, I’m delighted to be delaying it by getting the muscles stronger.

There are some exercises I just cannot do – so I adapt them to what I can do or do something else.

Overall I’m pleased I did Drt 1. I shall be repeating it as I don’t think I will cope with anything harder without pain.

Best wishes,

Steph

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