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.
Well done on a fabulous program! A friend recommended DRT & I’m so glad she did!
I find the workouts achievable but still challenging, and the fact that it’s improving my riding posture/strength is great motivation to stick with it. I have found that working both sides of my body has bought my attention to areas I was struggling with.
I am able to fit the workouts in around my busy schedule and love that I am able to pause it if need be. I love the variety of the workouts and that they are so easy to follow along with.Thanks again for putting together such a wonderful program. I’m looking forward to repeating DRT1 again before moving onto DRT2.
This program has mainly helped me with my balance and staying centered on my horse. Although there are quite a few exercises I haven’t been able to do because of an injured shoulder, I still got a lot out of it and hope to be able to do all of the exercises eventually. I am 77 years old and hope to be riding for a lot more years. Thanks Nicola.
I highly recommend the Dressage Rider Training to anyone who rides and wants to be the best for their horse. I was at the frustrated stage where I couldn’t connect consistantly with my horses and at 58 was about to acknowledge it was time to give up. DRT kept coming up on my Facebook feed and I decided as a last resort to give it a go. It was the best decision I’ve made. Within the first few weeks I was sitting my horse better than I had in years and my stamina was increasing daily. The workouts are varied so you never get bored which made me realise I need to be a thinking rider and vary my schooling sessions more to keep both me and my horse mentally engaged. We now hack confidently over steep terrain and we’re even jumping again.
The DRT program can be physically challenging but Nicola has structured it in such a way that you can take your time and progress at your own pace, repeating as you feel you need to. It may be 12 weeks but it took me 20 weeks to complete as I repeated different phases. There is an amazing group and website to support you through the program. The website has amazing resources from podcasts, delicious recipes to mindset and loads of other complementary programs.
I will definitely be signing up for the next DRT 2 course and I expect to be benefitting for years to come. Nicola, from the bottom of my heart a huge hug and thank you for empowering me to be better.
I would like to introduce you to my horse Duke. He is a Quarter Horse trained as a cow horse. I got him 4 years ago and began doing some jumping. Then 1 year ago I watched a video of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, I immediately fell in love with dressage and began training my cow horse in dressage. He transitioned very well and I have been riding dressage ever since. I began to find out how weak my muscles were and how hard I had to work just to try and keep my seat in the saddle. I began to research dressage rider fitness programs. I ordered a few books from the library and watched some videos, but I never really understood what they were saying. One day I was scrolling through Pinterest and came across your program. I was immediately impressed with your introduction video about why rider fitness was so important. I talked with my parents and did a little more research on your website. The more I learned the more I wanted to know what you did. I purchased DRT 1 having very high hopes! When I got the USB drive of DRT1 and looked over the program I was so excited. The way you explain the movements and what part of the body they strengthen and how it relates to dressage was so easy to understand. The way you have put together the program is very easy to follow. The workouts are challenging but not so hard you cant do them. I also really really like that you give easer options. The progress in my riding I began to see was mind blowing. I was not having as much trouble keeping my seat quiet and firm and my legs began to swing less. When I would miss a day if workouts I could tell when I went riding. By the end of the 12 weeks of DRT 1 I was riding the best I had in the 12 years I have been riding. I had absolute confidence in my ability to stay quiet and firm in the saddle, my legs weren’t swinging at the trot, I could confidently canter without hanging on with my legs, I could do a leg yield without feeling like I was going to fall of, and I could really concentrate on what my horse was doing and not have to worry about staying in the saddle. DRT 1 gave me so much confidence that I don’t think I would have gained any other way. The strength in my core, arms, and adductor muscles was super impressive. I feel very balanced and centered on the horse and off the horse. I cant tell you how much of a help the DRT 1 program has been. You are a fabulous teacher and have not only helped my riding 100% but you have also helped my confidence. Thank you so much!
DRT 2 here we come!!
Dear Nicola, I am a 61 year old rider with an off the track thoroughbred and I’ve been feeling lately like my pelvic area is not spreading out enough so that I could comfortably get my legs around the horse. The DRT1 and DRT2 exercises really helped me sit down deeper in the saddle.
DRT 2 was great because I found some Better balance and alignment with the center of my horse. My confidence is growing and I‘ve been exploring a bigger area around the barn and expanding my comfort zone.
In returned my mayor is more comfortable with me and more patient and calm .
Doing the DRT exercises every other night helps me sleep really good. in the morning my body feels an almost prickly or tingly sensation. I don’t know exactly how to describe it. It’s like my skin and muscles are energized. DRT 3 is coming along great. my My back feels more open and I feel straighter so cool. Thanks for that!
Sincerely Nancy (and Uppy)
The things I love about the program is the time it takes to do a session and the way it gets more demanding at a manageable rate.
The flexibility is good as sometimes in Western Australia it’s to hot to do anything on top of the usual horse stuff .
Thanks for the great job you’re doing
I enrolled in DRT-1 shortly after purchasing Trident, an 18 year old 3rd level mare. She is half Tb, half Percheron and is a very strong horse! She is wonderful to ride, very comfortable and powerful. DRT has helped me strengthen my core, improve my seat and balance, providing me with better tools to manage her, and try to ride her to the best of my ability and hers. I have a long way to go to catch up to her, but feel that I am well on my way. Thank you Nicola!
I found this program useful, and it has helped my riding by loosening up joints, particularly hips, and increasing my awareness of my own body tension prior to getting on my horse. Living in a rural area, this program offers me a more advanced program than I could get in town, and is not limited to yoga, but includes strength and core work and the flexibility of doing the workouts when my schedule allows, has helped me stay with it, and truly improve my fitness, and my ability to execute a series of aids in succession. I have been an athlete all my life and I appreciate being able to participate in a program that is designed for riders , is more thoughtful and creative than crunches and squats, and allows me to proceed at the right pace for me, without holding others back, or pushing them too fast. .
I finished DRT2 and was amazed at the strength it brings and the stretches are amazing. It has not only helped in riding but in doing the everyday chores around the barn and winter chores of hauling wood in and shoveling snow. I see the body cue into using the muscles in what ever needs to be done that I did not notice it doing so much before. The way the course is set up is great too, really challenging one day, stretching the next session and then the next challenging with the 2 days off to recover. Nicola makes the sessions flow very well and is so encouraging as some of the things she asks you wonder how your going to get into that position but with the instruction you find yourself going right on building your strength from DRT1. I really think these workouts would be of benefit even if you were not a rider, it just builds you up in everyway. Thanks for doing such a great job for us.
Hi Nicola, Here’s a picture of me having a lot of fun with Cherry. I know it’s not dressage but I am not doing this course specifically because I want to do dressage but because I want to be the best rider I can be and to keep riding for as long as possible. It’s an added bonus that since starting on your program, both Cherry and I have become so much more balanced and I have at last experienced how amazing it is to ride a horse that is soft and round and light in your hands. She may not be built for dressage (being a New Forest pony) but I have always felt that there is no reason why she can’t be all of those things if I can ride her properly.Thank you!
I’ve just completed DRT3 and I am amazed at how much fitness you can gain by doing three 20 minutes exercises a week! It’s such a small amount to invest in yourself and makes a big impact in your riding. I’ve done all three programs during my off-season and each spring, I’m able to come back into polo fitness much quicker than the previous year. After DRT1, at our first springtime fun match, I was the only player who didn’t need a walk break to catch their breath! After DRT2, with the strength and flexibility I had gained, I was able to reach much further and make shots I couldn’t do. I’ve also gained the confidence in my own ability so that I try shots I would never even try previously. My tail shots may not go far, but I can hit them now! Thanks, Nicola for your help in building my strength, fitness and confidence!
Hi Nicola, The above picture was on an Endurance ride this June where I had a fall and ended up in hospital for a few days. Flick had spooked while we were cantering up a hill, when rounding a bend, there was a large stack of wood painted with splashes of white paint. I landed fairly hard on a large rock partly embedded in the ground. I came across the DRT program when I was googling “exercises to build strength in legs to help when riding a horse that shies”. I really had to work hard on my mindset as I was really scared riding her after this. I was always waiting for the big shy that was going to send my flying again. Since doing the program I am no longer worried about her shying as I am a lot more confident that I have the strength and ability now to react in time to ensure my seat is strong and I stay on. Also since my mindset has changed, she is not shying as much – so it is so true that your horse picks up on your vibe. If I had not started the DRT program I am 100% certain I would still be struggling with riding out again. Now I am back to looking forward to going out training for endurance and Flick is responding so positively to my stronger more balanced sheet. I also really enjoy your emails reminding us to commit to our goals, how little changes everyday make large long term changes. Love the 2 day rule! I use these in all aspects of my life now. I cannot wait for DRT to commence. Great Job Nicola.
Hi Nicola, I had some doubts about subscribing to DRT2 as I wasn’t sure that I would be up to a more advanced program. However, I was wrong! DRT2 progresses in such a way that I was able to keep up quite well. Nicola provides options that allow you to progress in a way that works for you. Over the course of the program, I found I built my strength, stamina and flexibility but in addition, I just feel so much more secure and stable in the saddle. I believe I am a more effective rider, and my confidence has really been boosted. I highly recommend the program. Here is a photo of my quarter horse Limerick and me, riding a Training Level test at a show this summer.
Hi Nicola, This amazing programme has help me to be more still in the saddle especially with my arms. My hole position is better now and I become able to activate my core during the trot. Best regards Eva
Hi Nicola! I loved the program and I am strongly considering DRT 2 once I know more about it I hope to make a decision. I was 8 months after having our second daughter and I can not tell you how fit I feel! I know I am in better shape now then I think I have been in my life! Also the making me get out and I committed to riding my horse twice a week helped me mentally and emotionally! I feel so much closer to my horse and I didn’t think I could feel that way again! My horse and I are so much better after completing this awesome 12 week program! Thank you for putting together such a wonderful life change!
Hey Nicola, I Started DRT to help ease my pain with riding after suffering a broken pelvis and 3 kids later I have never been pain-free or myself on a horse! I ride BIG horses I have joined gyms and found it did nothing but gain weight (muscle) even gain cellulite even full-term pregnancy I didn’t have that. I was after that something that gave me what I needed something that focused on my goal of riding better and I found it here. I took a punt and I do not regret it the exercises are amazing and a lot of it is pelvis related so I hit the jackpot I’m riding better mostly pain-free except on cold snaps my body probably has arthritis I have done dressage days scoring nicely!! The option to buy on USB was also great giving I’m not much into the internet. I often see people flogging themselves at gyms etc but I have found DRT a better fit for me for time with roughly 60 mins a week I have toned my body people have noticed made comment and that dreaded cellulite is almost gone! Less is best thanks Nicola for your wonderful program that works.
Hi Nicola, this is me and my sweet Icelandic gelding Snæþór frá Austurkoti (try to pronounce that).I am so glad, that I joined DRT! And the exercises are perfect with 20 minutes 3 times a week. I feel, that my core and back is getting stronger (broke my back last year after falling off a horse), and my balance is getting better. I also feel, that my left side – which is clearly weaker than my right side – is slowly getting stronger and I am feeling more balanced on the horse. My plan is to continue doing week 9-12 and starting doing the exercises on the horse, which I have not done so much of yet – only walk without stirrups yet – and I will for sure be joining DRT2, but maybe not until next time… So thank you so much, Nicola.
I returned to riding 1 year ago after a 20 yr break. DRT has helped me regain my strength, flexibility, balance and confidence in the saddle. The program has helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses. I love her clear explanations of all the exercises along with some helpful visualizations that ensure I get the most from each workout. Her explanations of how each exercise will affect my riding keep me motivated. I simply cannot say enough good things about the program… Did I mention the encouragement you receive? I have been able to follow the course at my own speed, redo a tough week to be better prepared for the following week, take a break when life gets crazy I can pick up where I left off or forge ahead. It’s so easy to tailor to your specific needs. Thank You Nicola for helping me enjoy my riding once again. Grateful, Lynne
Hi Nicola, The DRT program helped strengthen my core and make me so much more flexible. I was always very stiff in the lower back – well actually the entire back, shoulders included. Now I can actually move with my horse at the canter which I have not been able to do for a long time. It’s help improve Bella’s canter significantly. I also had not done any no-stirrup work for many years and with doing the homework I now will continue to try to keep up riding without stirrups at least once a week. Thanks so much for creating such a workable program.
Hi Nicola, Your programs have greatly improved my balance and body awareness, which translates into me being a much better rider. But I think the real benefit will be long term in body awareness and control – being able to turn on and off different parts of my body. As I see my mother struggle with balance (she is 87), with reduced mobility, I see huge value in working on balance and muscle control for my long term mobility. I love the program – was not sure at first about the timed approach – but four rounds is mentally about right. I will keep repeating it until DRT4 comes out.
Hi Nicola, I enjoyed all the DRT programs you made because they had a good combination of different movements /exercises then conventional exercise programs. There was always something new to learn each time I participate. I also like that it is simple-3 days a week. I gained more insight into my assets and liabilities when it comes to being in the moment. It was great to hit the pause button on your program and reevaluate what I was doing while performing the exercises. I learned that I can change and break down my patterns which will definitely help with my dressage journey. I also enjoyed reading about your own journey with life. I liked the DRT3 program because of the myofascial concept which is atypical in most exercise programs. Exploring is important to me to help keep the mind and body fresh in learning. I like your positive encouragement comments with some fun humour alongside. The simplicity of the program is helpful in not taking ourselves too seriously. This can make all the difference in our perception and interpretation of our journey with our horses. Thanks for all your hard efforts and I am looking forward to doing it all again.
Hi Nicola, the DRT program has helped me so much. I love how easily accessible the exercise videos are and it has helped me become more stable and balanced in the saddle. There is still more for me to work on (a lot more) but that’s what I love about this program, is that I can keep on going. The mindfulness, advice and articles are super helpful and I write down certain things that I always go over to remind myself. One of my favourite’s and definitely suitable for me. Don’t overthink it and definitely don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. Thank you Nicola. Sonia x
Have loved the DRT1 training program. Over the 12 weeks I have found myself becoming more aware of my body and my balance. My balance has improved out of sight and by doing the yoga regularly I am much more flexible. Can’t wait for DRT 2 to start.
I’m very grateful for the program, Nicola. The exercises strengthened my core and seat and I felt more balanced and connected in my riding. I would recommended DRT to anyone wanting to improve their strength in the saddle.
Hi Nicola,This is me and my 6yo mare Zara aka(big bird),
I have thoroughly enjoyed DRT1 and it has showed my weaknesses and what I needed to work on, not only has it made me stronger and made a big difference to my riding it has also helped with the back pain I have suffered with for years ! I think anyone that rides would benefit from this course.
This program has helped me not only with my strength, balance, flexibility and stamina but also with my confidence. I recently got back into dressage after 30 years of mostly trail riding. I was quite dismayed at how I’d lost muscle tone and balance. DRT sounded like it was just what I needed and it was! Sitting trot is much easier, my trainer constantly comments on how much my seat has improved and when my horse spooks and jumps a bit I don’t lose my balance but just keep on going. I plan on continuing with DRT2. I’m sure my horse appreciates it too.
Hi,This program was exactly what I needed! My core strength and flexibility have improved significantly and I feel great!
Thank you! Looking forward to DRT 2
Hi Nicola, Just wanted to say that the DRT2 Program has been really making a big difference in how I feel both mentally and physically. I felt the DRT1 program was great and I had noticed improvements with my posture and stability but the DRT2 has helped me improve even more. Even family and friends noticed that my posture has straightened and my stomach flattened. On my horse I have been more aware of noticing my body position and started really feeling my seat bones and how I was moving with him. I have also become more confident on my horse, I think because I feel more centered and my stability has improved. Thank you for this great program.
Hi Nicola, Thank you so much for your help through this program. The 20min workouts are super easy to fit in around work and riding and I’m definitely feeling more balanced and centered in the saddle. Thanks!
Hi Nicola, I was able to perform all of the workouts and exercises in the program with the exception of one. I’m still unable to kneel on the Swiss ball. I can maintain balance on all fours but am not confident to balance on my knees. On the last strength workout, I asked my husband to stand in front of me so at least I would know what it felt like and was able to balance for a few seconds. My new mission is to balance on that ball no matter how long it takes! I will also repeat all of phase 3. The program has definitely helped me improve my balance and mobile strength. I was able to complete my regular lesson with my trainer without feeling overly tired. I now feel like I’m helping my young pony balance himself instead of hindering his movement. My seat is deeper and his canter departs are getting better. I’m excited about our progress! Thank you for a wonderful experience. Attached are some pictures of us. Kind regards, Darcy Sun & Gus
Dear Nicola, Your program is fantastic. I always kept myself in shape, ate healthily and have a disciplined lifestyle. (obviously, its all because of the horse! hahaha). So adding your program, where you strengthen and keep flexible explicit, in favour of us crazy horse people and make us workout specific the muscles, we need for our sport, is a real treat! My balance improved. My strength and focus improved. I feel blessed to finally find myself in an awesome barn, with correct and horse-friendly training and a supportive team. It took a long time, and now, signing up for your program is the icing on the cake. Thank you so much for your passion, your love, your knowledge and for sharing it with us! I’m looking forward to DRT2!
I am much more flexible. I can use my legs and communicate more effectively with my horse due to this program. I am an AQHA Select Amateur rider. This is a pic of my horse, KM BORN TO BE BEST and myself at the All American Quarter Horse Congress
The program helped me to reconnect with my body and made me mindful how to keep balanced and safe in the saddle. I’m almost 60 and an “adult returning to riding” not fit and carrying too many extra Kg. The program helped me get stronger and fitter and with that came confidence in the saddle. The things I said I couldn’t do, I am doing. Like going deep in the sea! Was too scared and unstable to do this before! And even trying a little jump over a log! Amazing. I’m more balanced in the saddle and in my everyday life with a skip to my step!
Nicola, This program helped me with my balance. I was leaning to the left in my saddle. The swiss ball is an excellent tool. I am only doing the low level work outs. I am 62 yrs old and am trying to get back some of my flexibility. I tend to get tension in my lower back. I am trying to do the stretches and strengthening excercises everyday. Thanks for the program. I got the thumb drive so I will be able to keep doing the work outs. Pictured is me and Prince my 14 yr old quarter horse who was rescued from a kill pen, he is a lovely mover! I have had him for almost 3yrs. Thank you again.
DRT 2 may have saved my life. Not in the literal sense, though I did stay on my mare during a big spook and I’m sure credit must be given to my better balance and strength. No, DRT 2 helped me through a breast cancer diagnosis and recovery. I got the diagnosis just before week 1, so it was several weeks before I was cleared to exercise. All I could do was breathe, which I’d learned to do very well through DRT 1! When I was finally able to get to the mat, I was anxious that all the good work of DRT 1 was lost, but that was not so. DRT 2 starts slowly, building (or rebuilding, in my case) on what went before. It took a few more than 12 weeks to get through it, but each week I felt my strength and confidence returning. Confidence in the saddle and confidence in the new normal of life after a devastating diagnosis. Do this program, no matter what your physical or mental health. An added bonus…through the Facebook group I found a cancer warrior sister who helped me through the whole dang journey and is now a friend of my heart.
Thank you, Nicole. You have changed my world.
Hi Nicola, I completed the final strength workout this morning. Thank you so much for creating these wonderful, affordable, and highly effective programs. They really have made a huge difference in my riding! I did need to modify some of DRT 3 because of a persistent shoulder injury — a rotator cuff that just won’t seem to heal. But I did all the workouts I could and just changed some of the plank-based moves and the weightlifting/resistance band work. I found DRT3 different in that it built on the strength and flexibility I gained with the other two programs — I did each twice with little to no break in between and then moved on to DRT 3 — but it also targeted new areas like fascia health (a different angle on flexibility) and reaction time. The latter is particularly important for me, as it’s exactly what I’m trying to work on in my riding! I really enjoyed the addition of plyometric exercises in particular, and the yoga in DRT3 was slow but intense, a good complement to the more active core and strength workouts. I work with a dressage trainer regularly each week and also a guest clinician who comes in about once a month. Both have commented on how much progress I have made in my seat and core strength over the past year, and I can definitely feel the effects of DRT not only in my body but also in my confidence. I really appreciate how doable the program is and also how accessible you are: you make the workouts fun, never fancy anything up, and just come across like someone who’s doing the exercises with us, not like someone who embodies kind of unachievable superwoman ideal! Thank you for everything. Is there a DRT 4 in the making, perhaps?
I have ridden enthusiastically, but poorly, all my life, and spent most of those years wishing I was a better rider. 18 months ago I stopped wishing, and started to do something about improving myself via the DRT programme. What a revelation, and how many years I have wasted! I repeated DRT1 three times over the course of 12 months before moving on to DRT2. The format and presentation was so familiar, but the new focus just takes things to a whole new level. I enjoyed DRT2 even more than DRT1, and as I became SO much stronger and fitter, I was able to gradually extend the “quality working time” in a session with my mare. We have worked and strengthened together, and the quality of our work has improved exponentially. No one ever tells me I look like Charlotte Dujardin (sigh), but almost everyone comments on how well developed my horse looks. I think I have formed a life changing habit. And habit is the key! The hardest thing is to press the “Play” button on those videos, but then you can sit back and reap the rewards for you and your horse.
Hi Nicola,Thank you for your email. The DRT programme and being a member of the online gym has been a truly transformative experience which has improved both my general and equestrian fitness and my overall attitude to my health. DRT 3 really pushed me to my edge but I enjoyed every bit of it and I look forward to repeating it again in a few weeks. For the moment I’m taking a break to do your yoga retreat. Thank you to you and your whole team !!
I fell in love with Dressage Rider Training because of the philosophy and unique understanding Nicola brought out in all the exercises. It’s tailored for the rider. It allows me to go at my own pace.I have only done DRT 1 and still only the first 4 weeks of sessions, I keep going back to and starting over and moving forward through again and again. It’s because they are what my body needs now and have helped me make the break through on the independent spine and seat that I needed now!I am 58 years old, I do not compete. I am a full time IT Project manager and work in an office. I owned my own horse, Haze (you can read about us in the book The Breath of Horse Crazy: The Love Affair Between Women and Horses, Chapter – Baron’s Hazey Shade). Haze had to be put down at 28 in 2016. I made a decision, along with my husband, that we would not buy another horse. My goal was to take lessons on various horses and gain the confidence to ride more than just one horse. My first mistake was to think that continuing to ride would keep me fit too. I was “wrong” ! Dressage Rider Training program and Nicola’s insight into the body, the horse and our connection has shown me the truth in the phrase “Be fit to ride, not ride to be fit”. I currently lease a mare named Moose. She’s a thoroughbred / draft cross. She’s 15 years old, ex Eventer and was out of shape and came to our barn. I started DRT and began working with Moose and my trainer. My trainer noticed a huge difference in my strength, my independent seat and my balance ! I’d ridden 3 other horses for her over 4 years, but starting DRT and on a fresh new horse it happened ! My canter became more consistent. I now I have the ability to help Moose balance and move forward. I am no longer a rider that always interferes with the horses forward motion. I am learning to be a better rider to help the horse achieve a better balance and strength too ! I love not feeling like I am a burden now to be carried but that I can help lift the horse !!
Hello Nicola, I thoroughly enjoyed DRT despite painful arthritis. When the rider uses her core, so does the horse (even the fluffy pony). Would definitely recommend this programme xxx
For me DRT3 really consolidated all the DRT1 and DRT2 work along with challenging me that bit more. Its that step up and without 1 and 2 you wouldn’t be able to do it so helped me realise just how far I have come. All 3 programs are worth their weight in gold. I started not having a core, let alone knowing how to engage it and use it effectively! The programs have not only helped me in the saddle but have also helped in my everyday way of doing the jobs that come with looking after a horse, property and household. Stuff is just easier. I feel stronger, stable and much more able. I noticed the difference after DRT1 and DRT2, but I feel that it is DRT3 that has really cemented all of that and made the biggest difference.
Hi Nicola, My horse, Declan, has been troubled with feet issues for the last three months & I’ve only been able to do light riding with him. But, in this case I’ve been even more glad that I’ve had DRT2 to keep me going & keep my fitness at least somewhat up! I think we have his feet issues under control & we are hopefully getting back into full work now. Even though he is out of shape, I am in pretty good shape thanks to DRT2 and so am finding it easier to help him work correctly again! So thank you so much for creating and sharing this wonderful program with us all!
I can’t say enough good things about the DRT program and creator/trainer, Nicola Smith. I’ve just completed the second level of the program, DRT2, and am ecstatic with my progress. My balance, strength and flexibility have all improved tremendously since the beginning of the program. The progress seen from the workouts combined with my weekly horse “homework” have transferred to the saddle and improved my riding. Being more balanced in the saddle with a stronger core helps my horse complete the tasks I’m asking him to do instead of having to work that much harder because I’m not doing my part. I feel strongly enough about this program that I think every rider should go through Dressage Rider Training, no matter the discipline. That being said, even though my original goal was to improve my riding when I started the DRT program, I’ve found the benefits of this program go much farther than the saddle. Daily activities have become easier and my posture has become so much better! Even if you are a non-rider, this program would be extremely beneficial – just leave the horse homework part out! Nicola’s instruction is fantastic and she has a way of correcting you at just the right time, almost like she’s right there working out with you. Finally, I live in a rural area and our internet service is not the best. I mention this because I love the fact that they understand not everyone in the world has the ability to stream videos easily and offer the program on a USB drive for people like me. I’ve purchased the USB drive for both DRT1 and DRT2 and it has been wonderful not having to watch that spinning circle waiting for a video to download.
I turned 60 in May, and you do a lot of reflecting at this age. For quite some time, I felt my riding was not progressing due to a number of issues both I and my horse were having. I was stuck in training level/ some first level work and I was not having much fun riding. It became work, an obligation. And I thought I was in shape, but clearly I wasn’t and I had to figure something out or I was never going to be able to move forward.
I came across DRT looking for exercises to help with a sciatica injury. So I thought why not commit to the DRT program and see what happens. I enrolled in the DRT program in May of 2019 and I can’t say enough good things about the program. Nicola is an amazing virtual coach. The 20 minute work outs, 3 times a week are perfect with added homework and wonderful reading material. Each week served a specific purpose in building you up to reaching the 12 week goal. I have a stronger core which I now realize how important that is if you want to be a great dressage rider, I have more stamina, and I have the correct balance and relaxation required to allow my horse to perform at his best. I had none of these 12 weeks ago. I was never able to ride without stirrups effectively so I never did ride without them much less post and cantor without them. I comfortably and effectively and often ride without my stirrups in all gaits. My trainer, for the first time feels we can start more lateral work and upper level work. The very best part of all is seeing how positive my horse has responded! Thank you Nicola, my trainer thanks you, my horse thanks you more. I am looking forward to DRT2!
– Shannon Kinney
I’m Kathy Theissen and have been a farm owner for 40 years. I’m a gold medalist and have taught many students to the highest levels. I’ve been teaching Shannon Kinney for quite a few years and I’ve seen a huge change in her riding since she started this program. She is much fitter and more effective in her riding. This program has been a huge benefit to her riding and helped me in my teaching. I wish all my students would commit to this program. Thank you. – Kathy Theissen
Hi, Nicola, I started up DRT 2 in May and almost finished week 3. But so much happened and the training was a bit irregular, so I decided to start from the beginning again. Now I`ve finished week 4 – and I enjoy the program so much! You`re doing a great job – and it always makes me in a good mood to see your smiling face on the screen and showing and explaining so good how to do the exercises. And to feel how it really works on important muscle groups and other structures that are necessary for riding goo. The core training is the easiest for me. I struggle a bit more with yoga and rider strength – but I`m working on it! My hips are very stiff and I also have some pain in this area. I also have arthritis in the hip joints, but it doesn`t feel as this is the main problem. I go to a Physiotherapist – and he also approves of the DRT program and thinks it`s good for me.
DRT3 is my favorite program—perhaps because DRT1,2 got me in shape for the challenges of DRT3. First, I love the micro focus—the smaller movements, the quieter routines—mixed with some really challenging core and fitness workouts, especially weeks 11 and 12. And the yoga (which is new for me in DRT) is paying off in balance and my awareness of where my body is. Now, I feel if I’ve dropped my shoulder, if I’m straight, if I’m leaning too far back in the canter. So often dressage becomes about the advanced maneuvers: changes, tempe, half passes, etc. No one emphasizes the core strength, flexibility and grace needed to DO these maneuvers. I was told so often to get my horse forward! But I didn’t have the solid balance and stamina to ride forward on a big warmblood. For me it was the gradual gains of a good physical form that paid off in confidence and skill. I have gone from being a rather clumsy, uncoordinated piece of cargo to a rider who can “ride every stride.” At least for a few strides! Great feeling! We cannot all be Olympic team riders, but we can ride our brave horses with great affection and lightness. Thank you for helping me be a better partner. Now, my horse looks up, whinnies and trots to the gate when I call her name. We are both having great fun. Thank you again. Starting over with DRT3 and working backward through all three programs…I have a lot of miles yet to ride. With affection and appreciation, Nancy
Nicola, I thoroughly enjoyed DRT 3. It was helpful with balance, breathing, and quiet strength. The riding without stirrups for homework has helped with confidence and communication with my horse through posture and balance (instead of nagging her with my hands) I greatly appreciate all the time and effort you have put into your classes, as well as the articles and education. Thank you so much!! Sharon and Charm
Hello Nicola! I think DRT3 was the perfect “step-up” to more advanced concepts after completing DRT1 and DRT2. I enjoyed how the program held one accountable and built upon the previous training. Even though each DRT program can be done as a individual, I think its true benefits come from completing it as a whole set. I have seen a big difference in my stability, posture, and core strength which manifested itself in some stellar performances this horse show season. Not mention my horse is much happier! Thank you for all your hard work! I am looking forward to repeating these programs to maintain my riding fitness! Cheers, Kristine
Hi Nicola, I am so pleased I found DRT and have enjoyed all of it; the exercises; motivational and educational side, covering nutrition and mindfulness. I have learned so much and my riding has improved too because my body has been made stronger and more supple ! I am 61 yrs old and have found a new enthusiasm for my hobby. I have scoliosis and inevitably am uneven in the saddle, but I am better than I was!! I know, if I keep it up, I am equipped with the tools to keep me enjoying my riding for the rest of my life. Thank you so much for spreading your knowledge all around the world.