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
Teal Amthor-Shaffer – Michigan, USA

I started DRT after graduating 6 months of physical therapy. PT helped me regain coordination after major abdominal surgery the year before, but I was still feeling weak and off balance in the saddle. The timing was terrible: my new dressage partner Fern is young, 17.1H, and moves more expressively than I had experience riding. (Fortunately she also has a heart of gold and is incredibly patient!) DRT has been an amazing investment in our partnership: I’ve gotten much stronger, more confident, and am able to mostly stay out of Fern’s way now by being supple and not bracing on her. Thanks to DRT, I no longer feel like I’m going to be the limiting factor in our partnership, and we’re starting to have moments of harmony that make me so excited for what’s to come as we progress up the levels!

Anette François – Vauvert, France

Hi Nicola, thanks. I remain a fan of DRT, I finish on Wednesday as I’ve done 2 of the weeks two times. So many things come together in my body awareness and reaction times have improved, stamina is better, suppleness is better. My riding is better. I have also just been certified as an equine ergonomist from Saddlefit4 life and this knowledge and learning experience have also helped me in my riding as I now finally have perfectly fitted saddles for me and my horses. I do other of your programs 2, sooo happy.

Lara Schwartz – Washington, USA

Greetings from Washington, DC, USA!

During DRT 4, I started noticing the most significant differences in my riding that I have seen in the course of my DRT journey. Back in DRT 1, I quickly noticed changes in how I went about my barn work. For example, I could squat to do hoof care or put on bell boots. Along the way, I have noticed little changes around the house, such as the ability to carry heavier items with one hand, and the fact that I stumble and trip less. But in DRT 4, I noticed big changes in the way I sit in the saddle- particularly mobility and straightness. DRT 4- or the cumulative DRT program- opened my hips in the saddle. I find I can follow with my hips at the walk and canter much better than before. My pesky left seat bone finally can get deep into the saddle and “scoop” my horse up into a lively, jumping canter. After years of having limited success aligning my hips, shoulders, eyes, and elbows around circles in both directions, I find myself much more able to maintain my own body straightness now, with great benefits for the horse.

DRT 4 is definitely a challenge, but it is a reasonable step up from DRT 3, and anyone who has completed DRT 3 can approach it with confidence. I did find myself taking some options, particularly in the side planks, so I have plenty of homework to return to. I will most likely repeat DRT 4 slowly this year. I’ve also decided to run a marathon next year- my fifth ever and my first since 2015- and will be interspersing my DRT work with much more cardio.

Have a happy holiday season, and thanks for a great program.

Harriet Fairbank – Oxfordshire

Hi Nicola, I LOVE IT. Without your programme, your structure and mindset, I wouldn’t regularly take myself off to the gym I also wouldn’t be as strong and balanced in my riding as I am now. By doing your workout 3 x a week it gives me structure to the beginning of my day! I’m eternally grateful to you! Thank you!

Heather Durnin – Ontario, Canada

DRT continues to be an important part of my training, working through the full range of the body’s motion while gradually working on improving strength. DRT 5 provides the same excellent quality found in the previous DRT chapters, but with a new set of workouts that stimulate the entire body in one session. My balance and stability continues to improve noticeably in the saddle. I’m starting DRT 5 again, but hoping there will one day be a DRT 6!

Shannon McGlon – Alabama, USA

DRT 5 has been my favorite and most impactful DRT series yet. The other versions prepare your body for the increased demands at DRT 5, but the work is productive, fun, and very effective. I was reluctant to sign up for the first round because I lost my upper level horse just as it was beginning. Nicola assured me that DRT 5 would keep me riding-fit despite time out of the saddle. Since that time, I have been riding many diverse other horses (upper level dressage, eventing, jumpers, etc) and have felt great in the saddle despite all the differences. I credit DRT 5 and the whole program for keeping me ready to ride as sporadic as that might be!

Thank you Nicola for such a well planned, excellent program that improves overall strength and balance but is most appropriate for the unique needs of a dressage rider!

Many Many Thanks!
Shannon McGlon

Sandra Ramirez – UK

This is my lovely share horse Mai , a 17 year-old Welsh Cob. This was taken in September this year and whilst we did not achieve a win, we actually ended up with a 64% score that day – the best ever achieved so far.
My dressage instructor recommended you after she completed the programme herself. It really helped improving issues related to my back pain (spinal stenosis), which also affected the horse’s way of going . Mai – also a middle-aged girl – has osteoarthritis in her hocks: we really needed some TLC! Over the past year, we have been working so hard at changing ourselves to improve our musculoskeletal health and be able to work together in better harmony. I can’t believe how much stronger my core is! I also surprised myself being able to balance on one leg and hold a warrior 3 pose. The back pain slightly improved and your DRT yoga worked better than the physio exercises alone. I am recommending you to all my friends, riders and non-riders alike. Can’t wait for DRT2!! Thank you very much for what you do!

Jennifer Keates – Maryland, USA

Hi Nicola, I am a 55 year old low level eventer (beginner novice). I discovered a lot of muscles I did not know I could utilize for riding. This is a picture just cross country schooling in 32 degree weather. Patriot and I still have a lot of work ahead at that sitting trot. We are grateful that I am slowly building strength.

Vicky Russell – Texas, USA

Great program I utilized to get back into riding. I had taken a couple of years off waiting on my two young horses to get started and lack of funds to take lessons, because of money I was pouring into getting my horses started. Needless to say, I was out of riding shape. The program not only is easy to do at home, but targeted towards making you a more secure rider. Here’s me on one of my Friesians after a lunge lesson. Thank you for the excellent program! FYI, my company’s insurance paid for this program. No excuses! Vicky

Chris McDade – Pennsylvania, USA

DRT 5 got to the level of fitness training I had been at via other classes and activities. What I have appreciated about all the DRT programs are the rider specific exercises and the explanations about what is important for a rider to support their horse(s). DRT 1 challenged/reminded me to do much more no stirrup work, which was great as I was rehabbing my horse at that time so it gave us direction for that work. DRT 3, with the emphasis on fascia, was my favorite so far, especially the yoga. DRT 5 adds the level of challenge in the program that will be one I use again and again. Thank you so much for making the program available, Nicola!

Sandra Lawrence – Victoria, Australia

Hi Nicola, I have attached a photo of my lovely school horse Finn. He is a dressage horse and a wonderful teacher. I have struggled to understand how to communicate with him and find that all I have learnt in DRT 1 is invaluable, particularly the independent leg control on the left rein. DRT 1 is an excellent foundation course for all riding disciplines.

Lisa – Australia

Hi Nicola, I have absolutely loved the program! It has helped me gain more confidence and get fitter and stronger in the process! I feel that it is only fair that I am as fit and strong as possible considering I expect my horse to be fit and strong. I am looking forward to continuing this exercise journey. Thank you so much. It is fun, easy to understand and easy to process to higher levels.

Nicky Hair – Victoria, Australia

Hi Nicola, thankyou so much for your fabulous programs.

It has enable me to build my strength and confidence to getting back to eventing as a 56 year old, and I can see my self being able to be still riding at 80 which is my aim.

The new strength has saved my quite few times when my young horse has jump awkwardly and or shied.
I would love to be able to continue with DRT 3, when it is available.

PS I did not think I would master the Swiss ball but I have !!!

Reta Prasse – Alberta

DRT 2 definitely improved my core, arm & leg strength. Also my balance. Having Nicola guide the sessions, including repetitions of the sets, alongside me is motivating. Her positive attitude makes it enjoyable & clear description of the exercises makes it easy to follow along. I always looked forward to the next workout session, be it the Yoga, Core or Rider Strength. The concise length of the sessions was key to me being able to complete the program. I also appreciated the availability of the sessions for a time after the initial 12 weeks so I could repeat some of them to maintain my fitness. DRT 2 is a winner in my books!

Louise Box – Victoria, Australia

I really loved DRT3. I spend most of my day at a desk, and the workouts really benefited my posture and a sense of stretching and strength in my back. I could feel a real difference in the way I sat and how I felt. If I missed a couple of days of my workout, my body told me that I needed to do the next session. I enjoyed the homework exercises too. I had found some of the kneeling a little too much for me in previous programs, but there was less of this in DRT3. I also had to take a couple of months break during DRT3, but found I could easily restart. I was thrilled that I could balance on the ball in the last phases of the program – even though I’d not done that since (or practiced much) since DRT2. The strength and core workouts were often deceptively simple. Often I’d see the images and think ‘this looks easy’ but by the final round, I could really feel muscles working, and know that there was a definite benefit. The simplicity of the routines was great. I wasn’t sure about the ‘timer’ approach at first, but found it motivating. I really like your calm, relaxed and encouraging style. I always come away from a session feeling energised. Overall, another great program, and I’ve just started DRT4, despite having only seen 2 horses (from a distance) and ridden none since I started DRT. I’m thrilled with how the programs have encouraged me to improve my health, fitness and mindfulness, and I can see and feel the results (and others can too). Thank you Nicola and Ben!

Wendy MacLean – Motueka NZ

Hi Nicola

I have really enjoyed all of the DRT programs and I especially look forward to the yoga. I have completed all the programs but probably enjoyed DRT 3 best of all because after the first round you knew what to expect for the rest of the 20 mins. I never look forward to the rider strength part but in DRT3 it wasn’t so bad. I would love to go on to DRT4 but feel I was struggling with motivation in the last one although I never missed any but it was becoming hard to commit. Possibly because of the time of year (winter) and work stress. I am now repeating DRT3 and will be ready to go on to DRT4 next time. It has definitely helped my balance and ability to stay on my horses big shys. As he is getting up the levels and is getting more athletic he has interesting moves too! But in life in general I feel so much more flexible and strong so my working life on the farm is so much easier.

Thank you so much for such a neat program and great friendly network.

Tracy Francis – Maple Ridge, BC, Canada (Instagram @takayaqh)

Hi Nicola

Thank you for following up for my review of my progress on DRT1.  I’m a 57 year old rider, my horse is a 20-something rescue, who I have had for a year.  My rider training, other than “self taught” youthful once in a blue moon opportunities, was limited to a few years of weekly school horse lessons in my mid 20’s, then family life took my financial, emotional, and timetable priorities until now.

My best-guess as to the background of my horse, rounded up in a small feral herd, is that he probably did a great deal of trail-string work who was treated kindly.  He is an unsophisticated ride, good for an older “confident novice” but it became obvious after a few months that my aging physical limitations were contributing to poor communication and probably his discomfort as well.

So I signed up for DRT1.  I am no stranger to yoga/pilates but what makes this program different is the focus on the muscles, joints, movements, and strength specific to riding.  I had to restart part way thru to recover from rib fractures (another story for another day) and I have not been as diligent in finishing the whole program yet, but I am very pleased to finally feel secure, balanced, and supple in my seat.  Just a couple days ago, while my horse was feeling peppy in a collected trot down a steep, loose gravel switchback, I marvelled how relaxed and balanced I felt, with no desire to check him for being too eager – whereas a few months ago I would have been holding him tight and chattering “whoa, walk, whoa, walk” and interfering with the line he wanted to take!  Did i mention I trailride in an old AP english saddle?

Someday, I’ll take up dressage.  In the meantime, I am so grateful to have signed up for DRT (will take DRT2 next round) as it truly benefits all riding disciplines.  My horse seems happier with my more confident seat, less interference, and being more tuned in to my horse because I can feel him so much better.

He’s still a straight forward trail horse and likely we will never get much suppleness, rhythm, collection and compulsion from my kind old boy’s short, somewhat swayed back.  But every time I dismount and say “thanks buddy, that was a great ride again!” it’s got something to do with what I’ve learned from DRT.

Thanks Nicola!

Tracy Francis
Maple Ridge, BC, Canada
(Instagram @takayaqh)

Sally Yonge – Yorkshire, UK

I’ve nearly finished DRT 2. What a difference it had made to my riding, I’m so much stronger, balanced and have lots more stamina. An old shoulder injury has also got better!
I have started doing intro dressage with my 6 year Highland mare. I’m looking forward to what the next year brings. Thank you so much Nicola

Glenda Hartley – Queensland, Australia

Hi, I have completed DRT2 and so grateful as I have a young 4 year old horse who tests his boundaries at times. I am 67 years young but I was close to selling him on at one stage. Now I have had him 1 year and having done DRT 1 & 2 in that time has been invaluable to me. It has increased my strength and confidence so much that now our relationship is really wonderful. I shall continue my DRT training which I really look forward to knowing how much my whole being and life benefits.

Patience and Wally

Hi, Please find attached, a picture of Wally, my 15.1 New Forest G and me. We are heading into our 7th month together, him at 7 years, and me at 62 years, lol!!

You have helped me tremendously with balance, posture and stability in the saddle. I did get the Swiss ball and tube and can’t believe I can balance on the ball!

Thank you,

Patience and Wally

Jacquie Kelton – Canada

Once again I cannot say enough good things about DRT2 as it picked up right where DRT1 left off and continues to help me improve my strength and fitness but also helps me to be more conscious of my body when I am riding. I find I am more in tune to what my horse is telling me and more able to control my body so as to not interfere!!
Its also great when my athletic baby horse decides to demonstrate just how athletic she is and I have the confidence of knowing I am better equipped to hold on.
The baby horses’ first event (Miss Something Special) Thanks so much and I look forward to the next DRT program! Jacquie Kelton

Helen Crouch – Texas

Nicola and Ben,

DRT 4 challenged me to the core in a healthy way. The yoga was especially beneficial in stretching those tight spots of the body after working at a desk all day. I also, must comment to the fact that all three of these routines (core, yoga and rider strength) have strengthened my weak shoulder . I had been in physical therapy for over a year prior to COVID-19 due to a frozen shoulder. These routines in DRT 4 have led to more release of my shoulder giving me more mobility. It was subtle but after completing the entire program I realized my shoulder rotation had improved. I lift weights and my trainer (who is a pro) noticed my core strength was stronger and this was all due to this program. She also commented how she thought this program had improved my strength. It clearly has improved my riding and connection with my horses.

You have such a natural ability to lead and motivate with some humor as you are leading us. This is a must program for any rider whether dressage, western pleasure, hunter jumper or just hacking around the pastures.

Thank you both for making this gym available for us around the world. I am grateful you both are using your talents to aid others.

Warm Regards,

Inês Gonçalves Ribeiro – Porto, Portugal

Hello Nicola!

Here you have a picture of me and my girl.

This program helped me to establish a good routine of weekly training that I really want to keep doing!

Thank you so much!

Jessica Sutherland – Auckland, New Zealand

This program has truly helped me with all aspects of my riding, especially dressage. Even with a busy schedule of school and competing, the 3 workouts a week helped me regain my strength and balance and I truly see and feel the difference in both my dressage results which will further help me become stronger as the eventing season gets closer. I am so thankful that I found Dressage Rider Training and the dedication Nicola puts into these workouts really shows through in the results.

Germana Zollesi – Orbassano, Italy

Hello Nicola, I love every DRT. Each one has somethings particular and specific, but DRT 4 is, for now, my favourite. I like strong workout, but DRT 4 has something that i can’t explain well with words. Something about confidence and compliance. While i did it, i’d found my self more confident, not only in body, but in my mind. I know better what i do (sometimes, we only do and with time we under stand what we are doing it). I hope my little thought have a little sense. Thank you and i’m waiting for DRT 5 and its surprise.

Lara Schwartz – Washington, USA

I am so pleased to share feedback about DRT3. This program has been, for me, the best of the three sequences. First of all, the focus on fascia offered me new insights into my body that helped me with my mobility, balance, and comfort. The stretches in particular helped me overcome some nighttime discomfort that had been bothering me for quite some time. Second, the format — four cycles of five exercises – in the core and strength/ fitness sessions was quite helpful for me psychologically. I was recovering from surgery and trying to rebuild fitness lost in a long illness, and I found that thinking in terms of one minute at a time rather than 20 minutes at a time enabled me to fire up my motivation better. I also think that this format helped me with a new mindset I’m trying to develop in my dressage and jumping– riding in the moment I’m in .

Although I am still working to get back to my pre-illness weight, the thing I find most remarkable after doing all three programs is my balance. I have always been a somewhat clumsy person, but I now have the best balance of my life. I also have improved my upper body and arm strength. The other day my husband and I were putting away some groceries and without thinking of it, I put an 8 pack of seltzer cans into the refrigerator with one hand. My husband remarked that I had very good hand strength and it occurred to me that all of the down dog and related exercises has changed my strength.

Finally, I will say that your reminding me not to grimace has made me aware of that both during the routines and on horseback, and it’s really helping with my relaxation.

In terms of future programs, I would really love to see a DRT sequence that explicitly incorporates the exercises with the mindset of relaxation and focus. I think it would be particularly great to have some video routines that require us to experience exertion, focus, and calm relaxation for an interval similar to a dressage test or cross country course (4-7 minutes) .

I look forward to DRT4 and hope this note adequately expresses my gratitude for your program.

Jennifer Matsue – Glenville, USA

As with so many others, I have physical limitations – in my case, I suffered brain trauma six years ago that left me with a sensory integration disorder and issues with proprioception on the left side of my body. A year into my recovery, and as part of my rehabilitation, I resumed riding. My childhood passion was rekindled and I realized that I wanted to own my own horse again. Meet my equine partner, Oliver, a 2013 KWPN/TB Gelding. Together, we are learning classical dressage, reshaping both our bodies one centimeter at a time. His injury was really devastating at first, as I care deeply about his well-being, but once we had his treatment sorted, I then worried about the negative impact of months out of the saddle. After recovering myself from several weeks of COVID, I was able to begin DRT1 and am now on Week 5. I do a lot of body work and have tried many programs, always thinking about ways that exercises can be organized to improve my riding. DRT does this for us in an accessible and digestible way. The flexibility provided by the on-line format is the only way I can fit the routines into my schedule and the thorough research and related articles are interesting and informative. Last week I began to tack-walk Oliver at the walk. Even though I had not ridden in 10 weeks, I was able to hop back on with open hips and a firm(ing) core. I’m hooked and looking forward to finishing all the DRT programs!

Morgan Thomas – Tullinge, Sweden

DRT4 was the culmination of a year of training unlike anything I have done before. I realize now (thanks to the educational material) that I had not been approaching my fitness as an athlete in a specific sport. General, all-round fitness will not get you to higher marks in a dressage test. Adding a few extra crunches is not enough to turn it into “sport specific training” either! The DRT series is possibly unique, I certainly can’t find anything that is similar to it for dressage.

All the DRT programmes provide a holistic system of training, everything supporting everything else, and it is very professionally constructed. In DRT4 everything we had been working up to in previous programmes kicked in – and it was hard! But going through the previous three programmes had prepared me. I’ve done HIIT training before, as well as yoga and weight-lifting, but not systematically and not with a complete end-to-end vision either. If you trust in the process of DRT then the results will come. Personally, over the last year I have raised my average test score by about 5%, and received comments from my trainer and even people I hardly know about the improvements in my seat. Riding feels different, I feel quicker and I never get tired (I’m 52 and ride my 178cm warmblood six days a week).

DRT4 is a definite step-up from DRT3, particularly in the core workouts. Maybe that’s just me, of course! As usual, being able to adjust the exercises was very useful, but I still ended up sweaty and gasping for breath at the end. of the core and strength workouts, much more so than in DRT1-3. For the first time ever I had to take the simpler options in many cases. But of course, now I can go through the programme again and try to increase the difficulty level.

I wouldn’t feel I could manage a DRT5 yet though! One more time around with DRT4 first. Thanks Nicola for creating a major building block in how I approach my sport, it has made a massive difference.

Kathy Holcomb – Woodland, CA

I was never good at sticking to an exercise routine, but that changed with Dressage Rider Training. Three 20-minute sessions a week are so easy to fit into my schedule and the results are transformational. I’m just finishing DRT2 and will repeat it before moving on to DRT3. I’m hooked.

Before starting the program, I’d fallen from my new horse several times and my confidence was shot. I work with a dressage instructor and now a dressage-riding sport psychologist, but needed to work on my physical abilities, too. A friend told me about DRT. During a recent lesson, my horse spooked and then threw in a little buck. I stayed on! I absolutely credit DRT for a stronger core, stronger overall position, and faster reaction. My instructor cheered, “Your seat never left the saddle!”

One thing I love about Nicola is her calm, positive, encouraging tone–and her smile–as we go through the exercises (as opposed to overly-excited, shouting exercise gurus). Nicola explains how the exercises are geared to what we need as riders. We use muscles no other sport does, after all.

As a bonus, I get to brag to whoever will listen that this 66-yr-old can kneel on an exercise ball while lifting a 5-pound weight!

(My horse has headshaking syndrome. The lycra mask he’s wearing in the photo seems to help.)

Lena Roeder – Colorado, USA

I am a 60 year old rider that started riding again 8 years ago after a 30 plus year break. I have always maintained a good level of fitness through running, cycling and a variety of outdoor activities. However, as I began my journey of learning to ride correctly, it became clear that some of my core muscles were long neglected. DRT 1 and 2 really targeted my weak areas and I immediately became more straight, balanced and effective in the saddle. Both of my horses became much calmer and more willing as my cues became much more clear and concise. We all say thank you very much!

Magda Ceska – Zemst, Belgium

I came across DRT while looking for exercises for equestrians. On a whim, I signed up- the only regret I have is not having done this sooner. The programme is well put together, both in terms of progressive difficulty which really translates to results as well as in terms of individual session lengths which find a perfect balance between pushing you out of your comfort zone and finishing just before pushing it too far. Putting the work in really pays off- I have become stronger and more supple (and can even do some exercises that would have been way out of reach a couple months ago). In my riding, I have seen improvement in my position and condition (and so has my trainer!). On top- Nicola is fantastically motivating, both in the videos and in the incredibly supportive DRT community group. Can’t wait to sign up for the next level and can only wholeheartedly recommend the programme.

Heidi Wells – Washington, USA

The Dressage Rider Training program 2 is just as great as the first! After every work out, I feel fitter and better about myself and my riding. If I am having an off day, I do a work out and it makes the rest of my day go better knowing I’ve done something to improve myself. I noticed a big difference in my stability when riding my hanoverian cross and I know she appreciates my improved fitness and quietness. My husband has even noticed a difference in my shape :). Can’t say enough about this program. I recommend it to my riding and non-riding friends alike.

Mary, NS Canada

Sporting several long term sports injuries, I thought DRT1 might be too ambitious for me – so I am elated to have just completed DRT2. At 64 and just 3 years into riding (dressage), my injuries are now better protected by the strength I have built around them – and my balance, agility, evenness, flexibility and overall strength have all improved dramatically. Now I have the strength and control to engage the independent body parts I need as I ride – so amazing! Matt is happier too.
(I don’t have many pics of me on my guy Matt but this is us in the Egg n Spoon race in our barn fun horse show – I won trail and command!)

Emma Burgess – Kirdford, UK

Hi, I did the DRT 1 course earlier this year. It interested me because it was designed by a fitness expert specifically for equestrians. I previously rode at advanced level dressage but showjump my current horse. I had two nasty falls last year which resulted in a lot of fractures. I wanted something which would help increase my strength and balance in the saddle and the DRT1 programme delivered. I’d recommend it to jumpers as well as dressage riders – many of us juggle very busy lives and our own fitness is given too low a priority despite being an essential part of effective riding. DRT1 is manageable within a busy week and very varied, all of which makes it easier to stick to.

Anne Rose – Kent, UK

I have had a lower back injury and can currently only ride very infrequently (2-4 times max per month). On starting DRT 1 my body was in very poor shape and I really struggled. After 2 – 3 weeks of puffing (and cursing!) I actually started to really enjoy the programme! I have just finished DRT 1 and I feel great – no more back pain and a much fitter body. I have lost 3 kilos and feel far more toned. Im still only riding twice a fortnight but when I do my balance is so much better and most importantly I have no problems with my back.
Roll on DRT 2!

Daria Plyplina – Moscow, Russia

Hi Nicole,

I am a deep admirer of your program 🙂 It helps me in many ways. First I love Swiss ball exercises. I haven’t fully mastered it yet, but surprisingly I can stay on the ball for some time. In DRT1 I could not. Swiss ball improves balance on the horse big time. Second, I use your exercises as a break during sitting working hours. It’s not long and fits the working schedule perfectly. And good for those who sits in front of the computer. And finally it keeps me fit for my riding. There is a big difference between me riding after I have done the exercises during the day and after I haven’t done it.

I attached some recent photos of me and my girl:)

Meantime I open my own small stables close to the bigger barn. I keep my two horses their and rent out two spots. Such an interesting activity. I attached the picture of my barn))

Hopefully I will make it to DRT3.


Nicky Marshall – Wellington, New Zealand

Hi Nicola,

Well…it is not too dramatic to say DRT has changed my life. Being over 60, and returning to riding, I knew I needed strength & flexibility coming out my ears, and was recovering from a broken collarbone from a fall from a bucking TB too.

On FB people were sharing DRT news so I took the plunge about a year ago. Now I am nearing the end of DRT 3!

Physically I feel great and it has improved my riding out of sight. Because it is targeted to make you a better rider, it is so efficient, an easy 20 minutes of a cheerful Nicola doing it with us and explaining the reasons for it all. She has options and encourages us to push it within safe limits.

There are so many extras, homework, insightful emails and articles about nutrition, mindfulness, focus and so on, plus the beautiful online community is (brilliant in the saddle and) so humble and supportive.

Even non riders should look at this. I have been a non-exerciser all my life, trying things & desperately hoping to find something sustainable. Now I will go back over everything & DRT will remain a lifelong habit.

Thanks so much to you & the team.
Nicky Marshall

Debra Freeman – Gaborone, Botswana

Dear Nicola and team

I am Debra from Gaborone, Botswana I have 2 horses and compete in dressage at small tour level and show jumping to a lesser degree. I am almost 50 and I have had cancer twice so my body has been through a lot.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the course I love the fact that you can do it in your own time , that the sessions are separated for time management and that you can refer back to the different weekly work outs.

Sadly I had to have an operation so I did not finish the program but this week I will pick it up from week 8 and this is what is so helpful with this course.

I also really appreciate Nicolas e-mails motivating and supporting you on an emotional level as riding alone is hard so the support and motivation is much appreciated.

I was enjoying the feeling of better suppleness through my body and I was able to do my sitting trot with more fluidity – both these areas are what I was targeting. I also felt more centered and better able to execute the canter pirouette work which I have really struggled with.

I will definitely be back for more thank you so much.


Janet Thornburg – Michigan, USA

Hi Nicola,

I am 69 years old and began taking riding lessons for the first time in March 2021. Attached is a photo of me on Lucky, the lesson horse whom I ride most often.

I completed the first eight weeks of DRT 1 before travel prevented me from completing the 12-week program. I found the first four weeks of DRT 1 to be easy; the subsequent weeks are increasingly challenging. I plan to practice weeks 4 through 12 over the coming months before advancing to DRT 2.

Your lessons are a helpful complement to the daily 15-minute flexibility exercises which I have been doing since the age of 22. Your strength-building exercises fill a gap in my previous exercise routine. Thanks to DRT 1, I am more conscious of my balance and coordination head-to-toe as I ride Lucky and other lesson horses. Thank you for helping me improve my health while improving my riding.

Rachel Lovett – Massachusetts, USA

Hi Nicola, I started DRT 1 at the same time I adopted my first horse. I wanted to lose weight and prevent future falls due to a bad fall where I broke my back last year. I definitely feel the program helped me get a more secure seat in the saddle. I didn’t realize how tight my muscles were before I started foam rolling. I’m going to continue stretching for both myself and my horse.

Norma Dvorsky – Ontario, Canada

Hi Nicola, Here I am with Hero (heart horse). This was taken last summer. He’s a 15hh3 RQH, now 14 years old.

I’m a just turned 68 year old rider, back to riding as of 4 years, after a hiatus of close to 50 years!
My coach has told me I’m much stronger & more stable in the saddle. My goal is to be safer & become a better rider.

I feel like all that is happening. I’ve practiced & indeed facilitated yoga (over 750hrs of training) for years. Adding the strength components has been fun & exhilarating. Seeing results is the pay off!
After 12 weeks I just started week 6, though I’ve cycled through week 5 2x.

I’m figuring it out as I go, freer now with course familiarity, to switch things up.
I believe in increasing slowly, challenging my level & being smart & in touch with myself as I do it.

Jenny – NZ/Australia

Hi Nicola and all DRT people. I don’t own a horse but have just been riding in Spain (Epona) on this beauty (an Andulucian PRE). The DRT workouts helped me get some core strength and stamina. I wish I had done more but I will continue. The DRT is fantastic and very relevant. When i come back next time I will aim to have done DHT as well and will sign up for the lesson with Rafael Soto.
A dream! Thank you so much Nicola and DRT!
Jenny, NZ/Australia.

Sara Wheeler – Auckland, New Zealand

Hi Nicola, This is a photo of me and one of my horses, Andy (aka Outlandish). I’ve had him for 8 years and we had a moderately successful career at Show Hunter before I decided to focus him on dressage. We are currently training level 3 and competing level 2.

I’ve found DRT1 has already had a huge influence on my position and strength. Having your words ringing in my ears as I ride has also been an immense help and a constant reminder to focus on my position (a trainer told me a few months ago that my position was holding me back, which is what spurred me on to sign up!). I have also found that I have a lot more strength and am much more able to adjust my body to apply more leg or to adjust my balance. I’m really enjoying the work without stirrups too!

Thanks for providing me with a real sense of purpose with my riding! Can’t wait for DRT2!


Sally Natan – Waiheke Island

I loved doing exercise that was specifically for riding, it kept me on track and motivated as riding is one of my greatest loves and after a bad fall 5yrs ago I’m doing everything I can to not repeat that experience. I loved the extra routines, great addition to the core workouts. Overall a great programme and I’m keen to continue

Cinthia Ane-McGreevy – Florida

Love DRT!
It’s helped tremendously with my core strength and balance!

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,


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.


1 2 3 4 17