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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Susan Chamberlain – Virginia, USA

Hi Nicola, I just finished the last Rider Strength workout of DRT2. I love how much more flexible I am and how much my strength has improved. I know I still need to work on my arm strength more – I’m great at lifting a pitchfork – but the rest of the muscles in my arms hadn’t been used until I started the DRT programs. Going to keep working on parts of DRT1 and DRT2 until the next session of DRT3 starts. Thanks so much for creating this program.

Lena Larsson – Örebro, Sweden

This program has been very good. I really like the structure with the three 20 minute work-outs, it is doable even if you have a busy life. And it has become a habit that I dont want to be without as it makes me feel better, both physically and mentally. The way the program is designed with the build up of strength and skills is fantastic. I can now do things I could not have imagend to do when I started the program. I found DRT 2 in a way easier than DRT 1, probably because I have DRT 1 to build on and that I now have the routine established. The effects on my riding are also more significant now after DRT2. My weekest area are my shoulders so the focus on that in DRT2 has been good for me. I still struggel a bit with side planks where I need to become stronger. I look forward to do DRT3 and meanwhile I´m going to repeat DRT2.

Carin Holmqvist – Aland Islands, Finland

Hi Nicola! I saw quite a long time ago a notice on Facebook and later got emails about the DRT program. I was curious and saved the information on the computer and in my mind. After I got quite severe pain because of an injury in the lower back, I knew I had to do something to strengthen my muscles. As we live in the countryside it doesn’t always feel so nice to go into the car and drive back to town just to join some group training once a week. It takes a lot of time with the horses as well.

I finally decided to join the DRT program this spring, and this was exactly what I have been looking for, strengthen the core, practice some yoga, and I can do it in 20 minutes at home whenever it suits me.

I have done the whole program and can experience the difference in my riding. Suddenly I understand what my former trainer meant by “open up your hips and come down in the saddle”. After DRT 1 and the homework without the stirrups (which was a long time ago I practiced), I come much deeper in the saddle in trot as well as in canter. I have much better balance and body control. I feel I can better help the horse to understand what I want. My posture has become much better and the yoga exercises help my lower back a lot. If I feel from the lower back in the morning, I start with 5 or 20 minutes of yoga and that makes my day!

Nicola is very inspiring, pedagogical, and professional. I like very much that all exercises are well motivated to help improve the riding. I will for sure continue to DRT 2!!

Kathy Kennedy – USA

Hi Nicola!

So proud to have completed DRT1 today. Thank you for creating such a terrific Bootcamp geared toward dressage riding. It has helped and supported me in so many ways, including with my riding.. My breathing, strength & stamina have greatly improved my riding & lessons, along with finding the courage, no easy thing after a tumble, to finally canter my 18 hand WB baby. You’ve made me so happy that I can now really push myself and advance my riding skills. Being able to take part in your Bootcamp during the pandemic was truly a lifesaver for me. My trainer is very pleased with my results! Kudos to you. Can’t wait to start DRT 2 next week. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Most cordially,
Kathy Kennedy, USA

Catriona Ní Bhriain – Wexford, Ireland

Hi Nicola, I answered all my hesitations this morning after a lesson. I could do what I wanted to do, so felt happy about that. But then I looked back at a video of us, & I nearly started crying looking at what I could do, I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe that was me, able to sit so upright, on my mare. I’m really at the lower levels. So please forgive the photos, but I thought I’d pass them onto you to help show my appreciation of what you have moulded us to be. So onwards & upwards.
I’ve just signed-up for DRT3.
Power-on now.
Thanks very much Nicola!
Wishing you continued success, & regards to Ben!
Catriona, Ireland

Elke Breves – Germany

Hi Nicola, the DRT 1 program improved my riding far beyond expectations. I am so much more balanced, relaxed and flexible. My improved body and mind awareness made me so much stronger and controlled, my anxiety is gone and replaced by self-assurance, joy and lots of fun. My horses are so much lighter and supple, their straightness improved and they show more motion and motivation.
Thank you so much for this program, it is a real treasure.

Joanna Philpot – Herts, United Kingdom

Hi Nicola, love, love, loving it thanks. In between DRT1 and 2, I did the 30 day core challenge so I’m delighted to not be struggling with DRT 2 yet.

This is us at our first competition since 8th December last year when I exited at A in an ambulance with a badly broken upper arm and pelvis!! I took a massive amount of guts and determination and DRT was very much part of my rehab. We also put a double bridle on my monkey, which seems to be being a game changer!

I’m delighted with my new deeper seat and stronger core and am really looking forwards to DRT2 stopping my toes from turning out!

Minita Holloway – Massachusetts, USA

Hi Nicola, I am still looking for my forever companion, but until then , I am very grateful to be able to ride this perfect gentleman, Rusty. He’s such a patient teacher and I was on the lookout for an exercise program that would help me be a better rider for him. DRT has been the perfect answer. In a short while, I have seen great improvements in my balance, flexibility and strength. Nicola explains all the movements clearly and provides alternatives which allow you to grow into the most advanced moves. I am very excited to continue my journey with DRT! Thank you Nicola!

Brenda Reading – Oamaru, NZ

Hi Nicola, I have felt improvements, I have nearly completed DTR1 to week 12, some weeks I repeated, as I felt I would benefit from the work. It is all part of the journey, many parts of my riding have improved, and will improve more in time, It has helped our canter work. I would like to think my horse has also felt the improvement and benefit from his rider being more balanced, fitter and stable in the saddle.

Sharon Burt – Florida, US

Hi Nicola, I have completed DRT1 followed by a 21 day yoga retreat. I have really enjoyed both programmes.
DRT has helped me deepen my seat and lengthen my leg when riding and the yoga has improved my overall flexibility.
I am planning on redoing DRT1 as I want to improve some of the exercises and my balance on the Swiss ball before starting DRT2. Thank you Nicola for making these programmes and for making them pretty easy to follow and highly motivational. photo courtesy of photos by Furey.

Caitlin Hughes – Ontario, Canada

Hi Nicola,

I really enjoyed the DRT2 Program. It was challenging but I felt myself getting stronger as the program progressed. I’ve seen the benefits in my riding and am continuing on with DRT3. I really enjoy how all of the exercises are designed to make you a better, stronger rider. I am always trying to be the best owner and rider for my horse that I can and DRT2 has helped me on the path to becoming a better rider. I’m so glad I found the DRT programs, my horse and I thank you Nicola!


Nancy Jones – North Dakota, USA

I was unable to ride Luna due to saddle fit issues but DRT 1 kept me in great shape so that when the fitter arrived and fit the saddle, I was strong enough to ride her well. Thank you, Nicola for a terrific program!

Beata Vetter – Warsaw, Poland

Hi Nicola,
I’m about to finish DRT1. Later than planned but life is full of distractions sometimes.
When I started DRT in spring I felt really frustrated with my horse and my riding and I thought this is my last chance. I’m 47 and have three kids and a full time job so riding wasn’t always my priority but I took part in many workshops and clinics to help me improve my seat and my posture on the horse and help my horse go forward and on the bit but often the result was that I only got more frustrated as I didn’t really understand how to make the moves I was asked to make. And I wasn’t unfit. I went to the gym, I went jogging and you know with a job and a family you are permanently on the go.

So it wasn’t the question of lack of agility really. But on the horse my trainer (God bless her for her patience) always tried to explain me how not to stay behind my horse’s movement and push forward with the hands. But I just couldn’t do it, just got more tense trying too hard. And then after a couple of weeks of DRT I just began to feel in my body how to make the core muscles work but at the same time be relaxed and push forward.

I started getting less tired as I stopped waisting energy for unnecessary tension and my stamina got much better. My body awareness has changed completely. And when I ride alone I feel this wonderful connection to my horse and I’m happy! I also feel much more confident as a rider. Thank you Nicola for this program, for your enthusiasm and for making me believe that I can enjoy my riding again and be better. Who knows maybe one day I will join my daughter and do a dressage test. See you at DRT2 soon!

All the best,

Beata from Poland

Kate De Fraja – Newbold Verdon, UK

Hi Nicola,
Here is a picture of Dante. He is a 17 year old Belgium Warmblood and I have had ridden him for 3 1/2 years now and owned him for just over a year. I’m 58 years old and keen to do as much eventing as I can, for as long as I can.

We competed at BE90 level eventing. Unfortunately this year due to the lockdown from March we couldn’t compete so I decided to start the DRT1 programme to give me something to focus on whilst we couldn’t do our normal training with instructors and jumping was not advised. Doing this programme during lockdown has given me the time and space to focus on myself and my position. I rode everyday without stirrups doing flatwork and kept to the programme repeating the three sessions as well most weeks.

When i finally saw my instructors they all noticed the improvement in my depth of seat and fitness (and I lost some weight as well!). I started competing in dressage again in June and saw some improvement in scores. We started eventing in July and the picture is at our second event of the season where we gained a personal best in our dressage 26.5 and a double clear in the show jumping and cross country to be placed 4th my best ever result.

DRT1 has undoubtedly improved our dressage but also our jumping as well as feel so secure and balanced which I’m sure helps Dante.

Overall I’m fitter and stronger and just so much more in control of my riding and most importantly enjoying it!

I have just signed up for DRT2 as I am determined to continue with this journey of fitness, strength and mobility so important for me at my age.

Thank you Nicola for such an effective and doable programme!


Joanne Rees – Victoria, Australia

Hi Nicola, I absolutely loved DRT1 the improvements in balance and softness has been incredible.
cheers and Thank you

Forever Sweet – Ohio, USA

Nicola, I have loved your program! It has been a wonderful change in habits for me! I have never been this fit and confident riding! Thank you! After doing all three programs, I finished DRT3 5 weeks ago but still going thru them again. I have loved the timed workouts and the 5 min warm up before riding my favorite!!
Thanks again!

Sue Eckerle – Kentucky, USA

This is me on Pepper early spring before Covid. I was 1/2 leasing her. But I have been riding another horse mostly just hacking .
The ball is still a challenge but I am getting it!
Looking forward to the DRT2, I am 67 and have low back flare ups here and there. I realize the importance of “keep moving “.
Thank You

Ellen Rome – Ohio, USA

Thank goodness for Nicola Smith and DRT 1 and now 2!  Nicola’s upbeat Aussie voice has kept me sane before and during this covid-19 pandemic and in better shape than I have been in the past 10 to 20 years.  I love how it relates back to core strength for riding specifically.  I am not a lover of yoga, yet I appreciate her ability to keep me engaged while exponentially increasing my flexibility. Thank you, Nicola, for the gift of wellness you provide!

Elke Breves – Germany

Dear Nicola and team,today I started week 10 of DRT1. While Struggling on the swiss ball, I realized how much DRT changed my life. It is not only a great benefit for my horses, but also for my employees and friends. I am a lot more balanced (emotionally), resilient and patient. In overwhelming situations, the breathing technique for example, helped so much. More strength and a better posture makes me feel present and focused and – most of all – I feel a lot happier.
I changed my nutrition and currently I am really into green smoothies and start enjoying vegetables´. Next step will be to change my skincare routine. Thank you so much Nicola, DRT was one of the best decisions I have ever made!

Elise Power – Auckland, New Zealand

Before the DRT I knew I needed to be stronger, but struggled to find exercises and routines that targeted what I needed for riding. Finding this program has been an absolutely perfect fit! Having this program tailored for the horse rider meant I saw the benefits in just a matter of weeks. By the end of the 12 weeks I was doing exercises I’d have never even attempted at the start and as a result, am riding stronger and more effectively. I cannot wait for DRT2!

Thanks again Nicola, I really enjoyed it.

Amal Eldaraa – Doha, Qatar

I decided to join DRT programs after having different falls all caused by my inability to maintain my position with sudden horse movement. All my prior horses were experienced.
I could feel more strength in my Body day after day with all of these DRT sessions. Thanks to tons of core workouts included in the program;I was able to sit in many spooks with my completely green 4 years old horse. DRT2 helped me in identifying and working to fix my weak side; connected me with a community sharing the same passion and struggle; and motivated me to focus on one day at a time. I am very grateful and would definitely recommend the program.

Rebekka Blumer – Richenthal, Switzerland

Hi Nicola, indeed, the programme is done: amazing how fast 12 weeks can pass!

I enjoyed the programme a lot, especially the diversity of yoga, fitness and building strength. As a western rider, I don’t do dressage but at the end of the day, regardless what discipline you ride in, you need a good posture, balance and fitness to support your horse the best.

I signed up for the 21-day yoga and will wait for the DRT2 programme ….

Carol Armstrong – Florida, United States

Nicola, your program definitely helped improve everything about my riding. I cannot thank you enough for providing an exercise program that really works for us who ride!

Chris Salter – Australia

Hi Nicola, this is my lovely mare Faith. She is a very powerful and exuberant girl. As you can see, I have a bad habit of leaning forward. I’ve tried to mentally correct this by reminding myself again and again, but it didn’t seem to make much difference, which is frustrating.

Now, although I’m only up to Week 8, friends have commented that I’m sitting up much straighter. This is in spite of taking much longer than 8 weeks to get there, due to having knee and back problems, and having to skip some of the exercises the first time around. When I get to Week 12 my aim is to restart at Week 1 again, and continue to build strength and especially flexibility. I really struggle with the yoga, (never mind doing the plank, I am one!) and intend to repeat the yoga sessions more often in my next round. Who knows, I might even get to Level 2!! So I’d like to encourage everyone out there who is carrying injuries and some age, that although progress might be slower, it is progress!

Emily O’Connor – Kingston Ontario, Canada

I started DRT1 because of the COVID19 restrictions, and the mandatory closure of our barn. Without being able to ride regularly I saw the DRT program as a good way to stay in shape for when I could ride again. I was so pleased with it that even when the barn reopened and I was back in the saddle, I continued with the DRT2 program. It was even better with exercises that challenge the balance and flexibility needed for dressage and really built on the gains made in the first program. I was so pleased with how solid I felt in the saddle, especially after three months off. I could feel my riding getting more secure, I can school for longer and really provide the balance and stability my horse needs so he can improve his balance and strength. I can’t wait for DRT3 now!
Emily, Kingston Ontario, Canada

Debra Renwick – Nottinghamshire, UK

Hi Nicola, I have had a fantastic couple of days when I felt like a proper partnership with my horse Oscar. He is 11 years old now and I got him as a yearling. We have had some challenging times and have not always been on the same wavelength. However since starting DRT I really feel we have turned a corner. I can only put this down to my improved balance, strength and confidence. I notice now that I can relax my shoulders as my cord is strong enough to allow me to do this. My seat is much stronger and more balanced. The course has been fantastic. So easy to follow but still challenging. I even mastered kneeling on the Swiss ball though I can’t move my arms too much yet!!

I have now started on the Cathdral Cove 21 day yoga programme which I am enjoying just as much.

Thankyou for providing such a great product and support network. I am not a facebooker but do look at the DRT site for tips and encouragement.

Joanna Philpot – Rickmansworth, UK

I have just completed DRT 1 and am doing the Core 30 challenge until DRT2 is released. I have absolutely loved every minute of it and both my trainer and my saddler are amazed at how much better I am riding. I had a nasty accident in December last year breaking my upper arm and my hip. I decided to do DRT to make it less likely that I fall off!

Can’t wait for DRT2.


Mary-Lynn Sheridan – Ontario, Canada

Hi Nicola, while doing the course I truly saw my balance improve and my awareness of what my body was doing. I was extremely pleased with the progress I and we (my mare Reign) were making. I signed up for the course because at 55 and empty nested I finally have time to concentrate on my riding and I am just starting to back my 2 – 3 year olds and new that strength, stamina and balance would go along way to help me out on this next journey. Thank you for all the support Nicola and Dressage Rider Fitness!

Susan Hainsworth – Vaud, Switzerland

Qrac and I say thanks for your inspiring & empowering DRT programme! A rebalancing lifechanger!

Mary Barron – New York, USA

The DRT program has given me the physical strengths that I thought were gone forever. My hips are more flexible, my balance has improved and my chronic back issues have subsided. All of this has helped me be a better rider. Being physically better has given me more confidence which has translated to Micah being more relaxed and confident in his new riding career. The three classes per week are manageable and your teaching is encouraging and makes the workouts pleasant. I also enjoy the weekly homework and articles that you provide. Knowledge is power AND confidence. I am looking forward to Phase 2.

Thanks Nicola!

Mary Barron

Mary Meland – Minnesota, USA

Finished DRT 1. My American Saddlebred Willy B Wicked and I are in much better balance now. Our ages together total 100 years!

Isabelle Gorska – Quebec, Canada

I love your sessions, they are fun, effective and rise my body awareness.
Your way to transmit it is so friendly, that it puts me in good mood for the rest of the day.
At my age – 69 today – the exercises are not always easy, so I have to repeat some sessions.
But slowly I feel more balanced, supple and stronger.

Thank you so much for your very encouraging sessions, wishing you lot of success in
Your riding.


Katrina Rolen – New Mexico, USA

DRT2 has been amazing. My balance and core strength have improved tremendously. This has helped my riding so much. I just ride for fun, both English and Western. I also really love to ride bareback and my stability is light years better than it was before I found Nicola and DRT. DRT2 is just plain fun too. I never thought I would be able to kneel on a Swiss ball while working with a dumbbell! DRT is really worth it, even if you don’t compete in anything and just want to be a stronger, more balanced rider while goofing off and having fun with your horse!

Janice Hutchinson – Cumbria, UK

Hi Nicola,

DRT3 is the first of the DRT group that I have completed in 12 weeks alongside your emails. I feel a huge achievement. In fact I found this more do-able than I found DRT1 back in January 2018. Let me tell you my story.

I am 67 years old. I have been riding Icelandic horses since 1990 and have achieved many things with them including riding at the World Championships three times and breeding Britain’s only 2 first prize Icelandic stallions. I also trained an Icelandic horse in dressage and competed him at Medium level against other breeds. When I reached 64 I decided I should try riding big horses again and try my ability to compete in dressage on one of them. I bought a 5 year old Warmblood mare with the ambition to ride her at Medium level by the time I reach 70.

Matching the forces on a bigger moving horse was a big physical challenge, made all the more difficult by the Warmblood brain which is quite different to an Icelandic. I had to learn to sit the sudden and violent spooks that came from nowhere. So I needed to improve my core stability, my stamina and flexibility as well as my balance. That was all a much bigger challenge than I had realised when I embarked on this new journey. Tristan Tucker and Andrew McLean techniques helped hugely with the horse handling and training. Mary Wanless and her biomechanics helped me with the Riding techniques. Then you and DRT stepped in to help with balance, strength, stability and flexibility.

We have a long journey (I hope) and we are now competing a little in Prelim and Novice level and getting reasonable scores.

When I started DRT1 in January 2018 I struggled with all three elements of the workouts. I am not a fitness freak and hate any gym work or fitness training. I started this programme as it was an essential element in my ability to ride the new and bigger moving horse.

I fell over a lot and had to stay quite close to the end of the bed for the warriors and other balancing moves. The yoga was totally impossible without major amendments. I was not able to kneel down or sit anywhere near cross legged. Yoga was painful and difficult but all the more reason for doing it as I clearly needed it badly. I took 6 months to complete DRT1 and then I started it again and took 6 months the second time around. I did find it a bit easier. The third time round I finished in three months and immediately repeated phase three.

That took to January 2020, by which time Moira Wedel and I joined forces to help motivate and support each other. We live 200 miles apart and I am 20 years older but we kept each other going. DRT 2 was tough and a real step up from DRT 1 but somehow it was easier. Possibly because we had got our bodies used to being pushed. We completed 2 and repeated the third phase before starting DRT 3.

DRT 3 took moves we had already used and added turns, stretches and speeds alongside a clock timing out 60 seconds for repetitions. I liked the clock as it was possible to have a little rest if required and pick up again before the end of the 60 secs or to keep going and push towards the end of the time. The yoga was another level of challenge for me. However I found a great deal of benefit from the yoga, even more than the previous DRTs. I was finding difficulty and sometimes sharp pains in my hips when riding or especially dismounting. The horrid hip exercises definitely helped hugely and I now swing my leg enthusiastically and without pain to dismount! I also have noticeably increased stamina in my riding. My balance and stability are very much improved and very noticeably so in riding the bigger moving horse – and surviving her impressive spooks.

So, I would say the first 2 DRTs set the foundation for the work in DRT3. It is plain to see how you added the extra elements to improve balance and stamina along with flexibility where it really matter to riders – in the torso and hips.

The 20 minute workouts are perfect for folk like me who are allergic to gyms and workouts. It’s easy to plan 20 minutes of workout and actually difficult to make excuses for not doing it! It is much easier with a buddy. I’m not a great one for Facebook and teaming up with people I don’t know, so I found it great to have a one-to-one with Moira. Not sure if pairing might help others As well as a Facebook group? It’s good to have both.

Anyway thanks again for your brilliance in formulating these exercise routines. It is easy to see and feel the progression that you planned and I have definitely benefitted (as has my horse -Ella). I think I am on track to get to Medium level dressage by the time I am 70 (December 2022). I will keep going with the DRT workouts to make sure I have the best chance of getting my body there.

Sending you love and hugs and grateful thanks from Cumbria, England.


Dr. Myrga Zankel – Kriens, Switzerland

Dear Nicola, thanks a lot for your mail and of course: please find attached a photo of “LaBlonde” and myself.

Unfortunately due to health issues I was not able to finish the program as of week 10, but like DRT1 I found DRT2 very, very helpful to identify my weak areas and to work on those as well as stabilizing my strengths. In fact DRT2 was even more helpful to me as I got great advice / exercises for my tight hips.

Thanks so much for giving us the opportunity to participate in such great program !!
Like DRT1 I will repeat DRT2 now !

Maria Temperini – United States

Hello Nicola, I loved your program and it is quite intense, even for someone working out regularly like me! I particularly benefitted for the balance and co-ordination exercises. I’m mostly an Eventing rider, however Dressage is the foundation for any other equestrian discipline, so your program helped me in the other phases as well. And my horse is happier too, as I’m a little more coordinated and balanced in the saddle!
As I purchased the memory stick, I’ll be able to repeat the exercise on the program any time I want! Thanks a lot.

Nicola Coady – County Waterford, Ireland

I have just completed DRT2 but unfortunately I was unable to do the riding homework (which I think is an important part of the program) but I have just restarted DRT2 and I will be including the riding homework this time around.

This brings me to my first point: it is fabulous that you can download all the DRT videos and are able to use them even after the program is over (when your horse is FINALLY sound again).

DRT improved my riding. By my third week my instructor was asking if my legs had suddenly grown longer (I am an adult, so I am not growing in that direction).

How did DRT change my life? Almost 3 years ago I had a rotational fall. It took a long time and a team of doctors but eventually I felt that I had almost completely recovered. Before the fall I always slept on my side and after the fall I always slept on my back. I thought sleeping on my back had started for pain relief and had ended up becoming a habit. Thanks to DRT I am sleeping on my side a lot more often. Sleeping on my back was still clearly pain related and the improvement in my quality of sleep has been LIFE CHANGING.

I also tried the meditation. I was very skeptical about it, but I honestly believe that it helped with my show nerves.

I also (surprisingly for me) have great things to say about the Facebook group. I had a question about learning to balance without hands on the swiss ball – I thought that it was an impossible and probably dangerous goal. Thanks to some advice from the group I can now balance on the ball and I still have all my teeth. I have also learned all sorts of non-DRT related things from the group (I am trying Franklin method balls. I can’t tell if they will be successful because we were all laughing too hard the first time that I tried them). There was also a post from a lady who was moving and before she had moved – thanks to her post in the group, she already had a friend to go hacking with near her new home.

Pamela Langenberg – Victoria, Australia

Hi Nicola
Thanks for your program, it’s not only helping with my riding but also feeling better and stronger in every day life. Cant wait to start DRT2! This is me on my “swiss ball” trying not to roll off!

Robyn Smith – Georgia, USA

Hi Nicola,

I’ve enjoyed the program tremendously and love how specific it is to dressage riding! I work out several times a week and while that is great for overall strengthening and fitness, it doesn’t address some of the particular areas we need to focus on as dressage riders.

I’m a couple of weeks behind due to a kitchen renovation and having to be out of town, but will complete weeks 11 and 12 directly. I plan to restart the program and complete a 2nd time plus do a lot more riding without stirrups.

Attached is a pic of m 4 year old APHA mare, Peaches, and myself. She is my first young horse and I’m learning a lot (I previously had an older Appaloosa who was well-trained when I got him…). Needless to say, I need to be in the best shape possible riding and training this sweet and super smart girl!!

Thank you for developing this program and I look forward to part 2!

P.S. Love it when Lucy and your adorable puppy joined you in the videos!!

Robyn Smith

Narel Wilson – NSW, Australia

Hi Nicola,

My daughter, Ella, replied to you separately. As we told you earlier on in the course, we did DRT together. I wanted to share with you that for me personally the content has been absolutely gold, and has changed things for me enormously. I did not realise I was so unbalanced and that my core was so weak. In the beginning I could barely do the most basic core movements without my muscles shaking. I could not do some things at all on one side of my body (such as put all my body weight on my left shoulder for a side plank type move, whereas the other side was just fine. I once was incredibly fit, and I guess four children later, throw in a couple of big accidents and things were not as good over time as they once were, life kind of crept up in a negative way for my body without me even realising the extent of it.

We did the workouts at a rate of 3 per week plus the homework – some we did separately and some together. And we had SO much fun and laughed alot, it really brought us closer too.

I now feel my body is so much stronger, balanced and also that long term pain issues have resolved or improved dramatically. I will definitely be continuing my workouts in future. The thing is, I had no idea how out of shape I was in alot of the areas that your program revealed. I felt before that I was really fit as I swim twice a week and am very active in other ways on our farm always doing physical jobs. So this was a massive eye opener. I am super proud to say I made it through and went from not able to balance at all on the swiss ball for any reason, or even sit easily on it and lift one leg, to determinedly practicing daily and I can now not only sit on it and lift each leg holding it up, but can also balance on it up on my knees with no hands – only a few weeks ago this was seemingly impossible!

Thank you so incredibly much for making the content so easy to fit in around life, easy to follow and done in a way that builds gradually without being too much in one go. It was gentle yet extremely effective and I feel just fantastic for doing it.

I am attaching a couple of pics of Ella and I.

Much gratitude to you, x Narel

Sheilla Boyd – North Carolina, USA

This program has been great! I am stronger and more flexible in my hips and my seat has improved greatly. I absolutely love the FB group and the support it provides as I have found there are a lot of women my age or older that want to become better riders instead of slowing down. I have already recommended the program to another lady at our barn. Thank you again!


Kasia Sadowska – Warszawa, Poland

Hi Nicola! I am still doing DRT1 because I felt like repeating some weeks. I am now in the week #10. I do not own a horse, but can share a picture of the one I ride from time to time;) I started DRT1 during lockdown which was a very good idea, because I needed exercise desperately;) Workouts were fun, sometimes more managable and sometimes – more challenging. It’s great that you can repeat them if you don’t feel like starting the next phase yet – this is what I did twice and it felt much better the second time. When I got back to the barn after lockdown it turned out, that my body is much stronger and flexible. My position in the saddle improved which was noticed by my trainer immediately! My riding is more confident and more conscious now, looking forward to the next parts of DRT – I will definitely continue with the program:)
Best regards!

Janna Greene – Blenheim, New Zealand

I am doing DRT 1, Week 12
Nicolas program is awesome …. it has helped me enormously improve my balance, feel and timing and I know that my horse Osie is the happier for it.
I am 65 years old and live in the South Island of New Zealand and began the program while we were in Covid Lockdown which enabled me to have the time to get seriously committed to doing the program as it is hard to fit it into normal life routinely.
I am living the dream of an amateur rider by just starting to compete at Level 7 (Prix st G and Int I) on a NZD$2500 warmbloodxtb, who i have owned since she was 3 (now 11yrs)…. so my message is “anyone can DO IT!!”
My body has been giving me some grief the last couple of years but i feel that DRT has handed me a lifeline ….. i find the yoga the toughest section.
Grand Prix in the future??……..!

Vireena Peacock – NSW, Australia

Hi Nicola, I had been watching the increasing number of posts on DRT on Facebook and decided that it was time for me to try something different to take my riding forward. I had been increasingly frustrated with my inability to improve my position and aids for my horse. This had been affecting my new horse quite a lot. He is a 14 1/8hh Arabian Riding Pony and very sensitive to my balance and aids.

DRT has provided a dramatic improvement to my riding in particular my balance and strength. My coach and riding friends can clearly see a difference and my pony is definitely happier. The other, unexpected, benefit is my confidence. I had two bad falls at the end of last year both as a result of my pony spooking and my resultant loss of balance. I now know I can ride those spooks (because I have) and so I am now riding more confidently and as a result, I too, am a much happier rider. I have added cavaletti to our training and, even though he tends to get a bit excited with these, I am really enjoying them.

The design of the program is ingenious – 20 minutes is easy to find even for someone who works full time and rides four times a week. I found that the sessions are quite addictive and that I wanted to do more and couldn’t wait to get see what each week had in store. My only complaint is that there is a few weeks gap until DRT2 starts – but I have plenty to practice!

If you had told me 12 weeks ago that I would be kneeling on a ball and moving my upper body through the week 12 movements I would have told you that you were dreaming – but wow I’m doing it. My lower back pain, which has been a constant for the last few years, has also gone as my core has strengthened. My flexibility has also improved dramatically – and yes, “downward dog” has become a place to rest. Did I say that I have just turned 55?

Thank you, Nicola, and well done on creating such an effective program for the time-poor rider.


Catherine Donworth – Kentucky, USA

I am an adult amateur rider, and a very busy working mom running my own business. I decided a year ago to get serious about dressage. I’ve been riding for 30 years, mostly hunting, jumping, and trail riding for fun. My dressage trainer was always telling me to ‘engage my core’, and I sat like a sack of spuds on my horse. So I signed up for DRT 1, and it has totally changed my riding. I now have a core that I can use, and my horse knows all about it! I am much more balanced and effective. I feel stronger. I have had to get my show coat taken in a few inches (thank you Nicola!). This is an excellent program that every rider would benefit from, not just dressage riders. It fits into my insane schedule, and although I may curse at Nicola at times during the workouts, I feel great after them. I strongly recommend this program to anyone that sits on a horse, no matter the discipline. It is worth very penny. Another bonus, you will like how you look in the mirror after 12 weeks!

Sandra Matt – Bertschikon, Switzerland

Hi Nicola, the program was really fantastic and it helped me a lot. I got much more connection and stability in the core, to bring the weight even trough the pelvis. I could release a lot of tension and I am sitting much more relaxed and deeper in the saddle.
And my horse is mirroring me all these positive changes. So, that all together is just great and I am very happy. I have never made so much progress as in the past 12 weeks. Thanks a lot and I am looking forward to start with DRT2.

Anna McKee – Auckland, New Zealand

Hi Nicola, The photos I have attached are from yesterday’s ride in the forest which was Roo’s third ride there without another horse.
He will be 5 in November and has been under saddle for 10 months. He never put a foot wrong and we did lots of trot and canter.
I decided to give DRT a try as it came so highly recommended by a variety of friends. As I had been doing pilates for over 10 years I did wonder what might be in it for me.
The best motivation was to be a strong balance rider so I could help my young horse who had just been started. I no longer compete but I really enjoy training my horse.
I am quite a disciplined person so I loved the structure of the DRT programme. While I really benefited from DRT 1 it was doing DRT 2 that really put everything together for me.
I could really start to feel how the exercises directly connected to ridden work.
I am much more conscious of my position and am much quicker to make corrections. It helps my horse so much, as the instant I correct my position he can bend and soften so easily.
He gets things and is able to adjust himself and it makes so much sense to him.
DRT has helped me to become a much more feeling rider as opposed to riding mechanically. This really shows in how relaxed and willing my horse is. My trainer commented on this in my most recent lessons.
I am very proud to have achieved mastering all the exercises on the swiss ball. This has been my favourite part of the whole programme!
Having access to the online gym is a great bonus and I have enjoyed dipping into some of the other programmes particularly the yoga.

Lorraine Downey – Waikato, New Zealand

Hello Nicola, I have found that working through the programme has definitely given me more strength and agility. Most of all I feel more confident and relaxed working my new smaller horse (Volante) who as his name suggests is quick and light. I will keep doing the program as part of my weekly routine. Many thanks kind regards Lorraine. Image is of my Show Hack Princeton

Alexandra Otten – Santiago, Chile

Dear Nicola,
I really loved your DRT program, it reaches out for so many important areas. Although I have not been able to ride my horse for over 4 months now, the program has helped to keep me in shape, but much further to that, to enhance my balance, strengthen my muscles and work on subtlenes and mindset.
I really hope to be able to start riding again soon, and feel the difference!
Attached is a picture with my mare Costa del Este, taken last year on a show, it was our first Inter 1!
Unfortunately the Lockdown came, so we couldn’t continue enjoying the rides.
Nevertheless, she is having a looong vacation and I try to keep up with your workouts.
You have a very nice, relaxed and warm personality. During the routines you also sometimes get tired, you can pet your dog, even once your horse… That all adds an important personal touch to your program. Congratulations for such a great job you have done.

With kindest regards, and looking forward to the next DRT,

Kathy LeReverend – Canada

Hi Nicola,
I have just finished DRT1 and am really looking forward to DRT2. I thought DRT1 was a great program, the focus on core, suppleness and strength was exactly what I needed and really brought home to me where I needed to improve if I want my riding to improve. I also enjoyed the warm and humorous comradery
of the many other people taking the program from all over the globe, reassuring to know that you are not the only one struggling with various moves. Your support throughout was also appreciated, all in all you have a gem of a program! Thanks so much!

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