Dressage Rider Training Reviews

Read these dressage rider fitness program reviews and testimonials below. These are from riders just like you who have completed the program and then sent me these photos and comments.

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Juliet Iremonger, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

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.

Jennifer Lenio, New York

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!

Dawn Shaver, Missouri, US

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.

Shannon O Kinney, Minnesota, US

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

Hilde Eli Bjerke, Norway

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.

Nancy Sullivan, Colorado, US

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

Sharon Barber, Texas, US

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

Kristine Tate, California, US

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

Mary Spencer, Suffolk, UK

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.

Katy Law, Surrey, UK

Hi all I wanted to share with you the amazing DRT journey I have been on which has blown me away. Exactly a year ago today I started DRT1. I had no idea whether an online fitness course would be any good and seriously doubted whether I would be able to motivate myself. I found the first half of DRT1 hard, constantly ached and felt weak. After week 6 I questioned whether I should repeat the first 2 phases. My routine was to do core early in the week and yoga and strength on Sunday one after the other. I work full time in London and spend 4 hours a day commuting so fitting it in was a challenge. After week 6 of DRT1 I thought I would carry on regardless which was a complete mindset change. What I learnt was consistency is key. I started to find things getting easier and stopped aching. Even if the reps were hard I forced my way through them even if I was shaking at the end of it. Without thinking too much about whether it was beyond me, I then did DRT2 and have just completed DRT3. I am now so strong in my body and flexible and my riding has improved immensely. My instructor regularly comments “wow look at that core” and has taught me to ride with my seat. Sadly I don’t have my own horse as I don’t have time around my current work and family commitments but will definitely get one down the line. The one thing I could never master was balancing on the swiss ball, that was until week 12 of DRT3 when I realised I could finally do it! I am so so grateful to Nicola Smith for devising this incredible programme and am waiting with baited breath at what she has up her sleeve next!! In the meantime, I’ve just started Morning Yoga which is very gentle but a great way to start the day. I’m on holiday right now but brought my mat, foam roller, mobility ball and resistance bands). I am also starting the Thrive programme for something a bit different and will then repeat DRT2 and DRT3.

Rachel Bladon, Newbury, UK

Hi NicolaI have loved DRT 2. I have found most of the workouts challenging and some really tough, but I have always been able to do them, even if I am muttering “oh no you must be joking” as you cheerfully announce another set!What I am most pleased with is the effect it has had on my riding – the kneeling on the swiss ball has given me a true understanding of how to stay balanced on my seat, and even on my horse whatever he does underneath me. So, I finally understand how to be the rider I always wanted to be, even if I still have plenty of work to do, now I think I can get there. Thank you, Nicola, it has been awesome.Attached is a picture of me and Harry my rather cheeky but very lovely dutch warmblood gelding at a recent clinic. Thank you

Jenny Binks, Surrey, UK

Dear Nicola, I finished DRT 3 about a week ago and have been mulling over what to say. Like DRT 1 and 2, DRT 3 is an excellent programme that is progressive and gets results. The joy to me this time round was the yoga, I really liked the fascia release work and it was very beneficial to my very stiff and creaky body. I never used to look forward to the yoga components of DRT 1 and 2 as I just could do a lot of it; I’ve never been able to sit crossed legged or touch my toes. But with DRT 3 it was my favourite workout. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the resistance bands; I could see the purpose and benefit, but did I enjoy using them……not very much! You have developed a wonderful programme here, but also an amazing and supporting community which adds to the pleasure. I’m so glad I signed up to DRT1 as it was a leap of faith at the time. I’m sure my horse is too! But it has had a knock-on positive effect on my whole life and attitude. I am now exercising more frequently, with more variety, I’m regularly running 5k, and eating more healthily. All thing I used to do, and enjoy, before having children and a bout of ill health. The DRT programmes have got me back into a routine and I’m definitely a better and healthier person as a result. I applaud you, the program, Ben for all the behind the scenes stuff, and also your lovely animals which always were a pleasure to see popping up. Best wishes.

Darlene Yudell, North Carolina, US

Here I am with ‘Wrangler’ (MaximumCashFromTrash) at a Western Dressage event at Sport Of The Horse in North Carolina. The program Nicola has provided has helped me reestablish a regular exercise routine with the proper exercises to strengthen my entire body, balance and support my confidence. The short 20 minute routines made all the difference. The diversity of the three focus areas of core, mobility and riding continues to provide me a means to continue strengthening, not just maintaining even after the first 12 weeks is done. Thank you Nicola. Darlene Yudell and Wrangler.

Tahnée, Victoria, Australia

Hi! I’m so glad I was part of DRT 3! Once again it was an amazing program different to the others but really easy to follow again and gave me a great chance to really get a good grasp of the exercises. I also loved the way it personally fits so well with my stages of riding improvement. I’ve been without a saddle that fits recently and so through the confidence and fitness I’ve gain from the homework part also, I’ve kept riding but bareback instead! Without the strength created I doubt I would have managed to continue our dressage training in such a connected and balanced way! So thanks once again! I definitely hope to see more of these! Tahnée and Xena (pony!)

Sylvia Schafer, Connecticut, US

Dear Nicola,

I am just about finishing up (late) on DRT3. I want to thank you for the huge difference it has made in my riding. Last year we were struggling with 4th level. This summer I have been competing PSG and just earned my USDF silver medal. As an amateur with a full-time job and just one horse to ride, the extra strength, flexibility, and reaction speed that I have gotten from DRT has allowed me to reach the next level. My horse likes how much more evenly I sit and the greater clarity of my aids (even though my rogue right leg still swings forward from that tighter hip flexor. Grr!)

Happy riding!

Sylvia Schafer

Suwayon Roska, Wisconsin, USA

Feeling strong and happy! I just finished the last week of Dressage Rider Training Program* Phase 2.  This was another 12 weeks of core, yoga, and rider strength exercises designed to improve all the muscles we use when we ride.  But really it is so much more. I feel fit, flexible, and strong. There is an obvious pay off in the saddle – long rides in  Iceland were no challenge at all – but also in everything I do.  I am very glad that I began this program with Phase 1 in January and stuck to it.  I’m looking forward to Phase 3 in September.  In the meantime, I’m going to repeat all the workouts I found especially  challenging until I know that I’ve nailed them!* I do not ride dressage but as most riders know, dressage requires a lot of strength and coordination in order to make it look effortless.   The exercises in this program carry over to any riding discipline.

Joette Everist, South Dakota

What I liked best about this program is the progression through each level. I love that it is different every week and sessions are short enough to fit into a busy life. I feel so much more stable in the saddle. I am 63 and have a very talented Hanoverian with a difficult trot to sit. My transformation is amazing. I now feel like I am part of him. I don’t even bobble when he does something stupid. Hoping there is a DRT 4!

Sue Gaisford, NZ

I have been doing the DRT1 program, haven’t finished all the sessions yet as have repeated some, also behind with ridden homework as it is winter here and I don’t have an arena. But already I am 100% more aware of my riding position and am trying really hard to be more stable and in control. It is quite a change after 30 years SJ but this program has made me feel more confident and in control of my fizzy Irish x mare. The photo attached is before the program, I see that I tip forward but it was a good day and we got 69.8% in level 2.

Colette Crosby, USA

I have had a noticeable improvement in achieving correct balance on my seat bones — a goal that has evaded me for quite some time — since starting this program. I love the balance in this program between core strength, rider strength and yoga. The yoga program has been my favorite, as it helps me focus on calmness, centered-ness and breathing (all key to successful and enjoyable riding!). But don’t get me wrong: the core and rider strength programs are also excellent!

Jolene Brewster – Banff, Alberta  Canada

Hi Nicola,  This has been a big year of me,  my son was born, I bought new dressage horse, and as a small business owner, I am a working mom. I have a lot on the go and yet I still found your program easy to follow and squeeze into life.  Dressage Rider Training has even helped me prepare for my very first dressage show on my new horse Dramatico,  we finished off with 4 ribbons!!  I feel fit, strong, and fantastic.  I’m already looking forward to Dressage Rider Training #2.

Wendy Barr, New Jersey

Hi Nicole. Your program helped me in a way you might not have expected! Got through the first four weeks and couldn’t get farther even with repeating the first four weeks! What the heck?! … Did a little thinking and investigating and in late October I’ll be getting my second new hip. Looking forward to restarting the program as part of my rehab. Definitely saw a difference in my riding. Starting to ride at 65 is no small physical adjustment, but your program, even the few weeks I was able to do and repeat several times, made a wonderful difference. Thank you! Sincerely, Wendy Barr

Annette Lindström, Sweden

This is the best ever, I joined the Dressage Rider Program. Me and my horse, Hrimfaxi, has improved together in balance, strength and mobility. As a rider I have received much better balance and strengthand I have been looking forward to do the training each week. For me the varity of exercises has been a challenge but in a good way. The explanation of why you do it is so good. I highly recommend this program for all riders. Me and my five gaites Icelandic horse will continue this training program. Thank You Nicola for making this possible.

Linda Gonzalez, Los Angeles, US

Hi Nicola,It is incredible how quickly this program worked for me. I started riding Dressage earlier this year. I was definitely struggling with my leg position (especially with my right), control and balance. I finally realized that I needed to become more physically fit. Not only to help myself, but my horse as well.I started your program in May and in June I competed in my first Dressage schooling show. I felt so strong, confident and balanced. It was amazing. We even managed to snag a 4th place ribbon. I have now completed the 12 week DRT program. I cannot believe how quickly it went by, or how much I looked forward to the routines and, more importantly, how effective the program is. My barn mates and family have commented on how much fitter I am. I can ride entire lessons without stirrups now (and actually prefer to!). Please note I’m 58 and work in an office. Riding 3 times a week was my only exercise until I started the DRT program. I look forward to continuing with this program and enjoying your very kind and encouraging way of teaching.

Lindsy Christensen, Utah, US

After completing DRT 3, I could tell that I wasnt having to work as hard in the saddle. My body just seemed to know what to do intuitively so I could keep my mind focused. As I have mentioned after completing DRT 1 and 2, I initially started this program because I was suffering from some vestibular and chronic pain issues that years of physical therapy just wasn’t helping anymore. Now after completing DRT 3, I feel as though I am 80% symptom free and I feel my body getting stronger and more balanced every day. I’m back riding my horses and mule again, and I am able to trim horses and mules as I once did. This program is well worth the time and money and I honestly believe it held a crucial part in restoring my quality of life. The website is filled with great resources to access during the workout journey, and I really appreciated the timeliness of responses to all my email questions.

Patti Andrews

Hi Nicola, Here is a picture of my horse Chiron and myself at a show last fall. I feel more balanced in the saddle after taking your program, thank you!

Kim Francis, Essex, UK

The photo is me and my 19 year old Warmblood x TD Bertie, he is now 19 years old and I’ve had him since he was 6.  I am a 51 year old who has been riding since the age of around 6 year old, I was a pretty much self taught rider until I was in the 30’s and have done lots of various discipline’s from showing, jumping, x country, and dressage.  But dressage stuck when I had my son, I though it would be best to save on any broken bones and self preservation kicked in too!  Over the last few years with menopause appearing I found that my energy and fitness levels dropped quite a lot, and I was constantly tired. Running a business with my husband and a now 16 year old son, looking after four horses at various points (now down to two) was taking its toll.  I found DRT on Facebook a couple of years ago and kept looking at it and all the lovely comments and feedback it was getting and now this year I felt like I could cope with doing it myself, this was the best decision I have made.  Not only do I feel stronger, healthier with the amazing diet plans I feel more alive than I have  in a very long time.  I am really enjoying my horse again and he’s happy working too!  We are now in line with our goals with a Dressage show booked for the end of August, so thank you Nicola and your team for your amazing work and persistence, patience and the huge push you guys have given me, I cant thank you enough xx

Jessie Williams – Eugene, Oregon, USA

Hi Nicola, I purchased DRT1 more than a year ago and started the program but was sidelined by and injury not related to the program. When I wanted to start again I struggled with motivation and accountability. My husband mentioned he wanted to start working out again and I suggested we do DRT1 together. He does not ride but the short workouts and focus on core strength was attractive to him. So we started together. We did DRT1 week 1-8 then week 4-12. We decided to purchase DRT2 so we could continue on with our workouts. Having a partner has really helped keep me on track. We are now on week 4 of DRT2 and have added 2 walk/jog workouts per week. I am stronger and I know I have been able to deal with the training demands of riding a green horse because of the DRT program. My husband and I find even with the short workouts we can feel it later. I love that it really isolates the small muscles that stabilize our trunk because I have had back pain in the past. This program in conjunction with regularly seeing a PT/masseuse for some manual therapy 1-2 times per month has kept my back healthy and pain free. Thank you for putting together this program that is specific to equestrians. Your passion for helping the rest of us become better riders is apparent in every video. We find you very entertaining every time we work out with you. Attached is a picture of “Petey” my 7yo 1/2 Arab 1/2 National Show Horse at a recent show qualifying for League Finals and achieving our Intro Certificate. I’m so proud of how far we have come in the last 12 months. I don’t think we would be here without you.

Fiona Wilson – Brisbane, Australia

Dear Nicola, I haven’t quite made it through the entire DRT2 program as yet (just about to start Week 9) but really love the program and definitely know it is making a difference, not only to my riding but also my confidence in the saddle.  The DRT2 program certainly steps up the challenge from the DRT1 program but in a good way.  I’m thinking about repeating DRT2 before moving onto DRT3 just so I can be sure I’ll be ready for whatever you throw at us! I have attached a picture of Flea and myself taken on Sunday where we are channeling our Ingrid Klimke No Stirrups work! Thanks again for a wonderful program…everyone has noticed how much I have improved and I know the program is the catalyst!

Kara Noble, Massachusetts, US

Hi Nicola, I signed up for DRT1 to get back in shape after family crises forced me to take a nearly two-year hiatus from riding. I was completely out of shape and at a point where I thought it might be time to give up horses. It felt unfair to ride my mare because I was so off balance and tottery. DRT looked daunting, but I thought “If I can get through this, I can get back in the saddle.” For me, DRT was a miracle. The program was a lot easier than I expected. Your support and guidance along the way were wonderful. DRT’s phased fitness-building program gave me more energy and strength than I’ve had in years. I feel more flexible, balanced, supple, and relaxed in the saddle. My confidence is coming back and riding is fun again. My Icelandic mare and I haven’t tried a dressage test yet, but it is our new goal. Regular exercise with DRT hasn’t just helped my riding. I feel better all over.  This program has been life changing for me, and I cannot wait to start DRT2. Thank you so much for this terrific program.

Karen Johnson, North Dakota, US
I’ve really enjoyed the program and definitely feel stronger but have fallen behind due to summer company.  We live in Alaska in summer and Arizona in winter.  As you can see in photo below my passion is barrel racing.  I got back into horses in my 40’s and began with dressage but after completing training level I needed the excitement and adrenaline rush of racing.  I turned 68 this month and have always been active and in good shape.  I signed up for your course because we now leave my horseman AZ for the summer and I wanted my core and legs to stay strong.  I do lots of hiking too.  I plan to finish your course…I had some trouble with meniscus flare up on my left knee and had to alter some of the movements but do not cheat and always choose the most challenging version of your exercises.  Thank you for offering this course!

Ceri Johns, Australia

Hi Nicole just letting you know I have enjoyed DRT 1 ,2 &3 immensely. I’m still doing 12 th week of DRT3 and I intend repeating DRT3 again.

Rosie has proven to be a challenge and DRT has saved me many times . I love the work outs and I find I need to regularly do the sessions to help with keeping my core strong and ensure my stability.

I love the Swiss ball exercises. When I first started doing DRT I had no hope of staying on the ball now I am able to do all the challenges DRT 3 throws at me. Thank you again. I intend using your program to keep this 60 yr old body flexible and strong.

Lori Van Haren, Ontario, Canada

Hi Nicola,

I think the best thing about this program is that it maintains and improves rider fitness even when I am not able to ride as often as I would like.  I have done pilates for years but I find that as strong as I get in pilates, it does not seem to translate into the real world and with this program I have discovered why.  The work on balance during movement and the dynamic nature of the exercises has built up my balance to be able to engage these muscles during every day movements and while riding.  My posture has most certainly improved as well!
Tracy Bylan, Connecticut, US

Hi Nicola

I just wanted to say that I loved your program.  I have a 17H warmblood mare who can be a bit strong over fences.  I have an issue twisting slightly in the air, and subsequently the mare lands on her right lead, or swaps out before the fence due to my imbalance.  I just finished DRT 1, and there has been a huge change in my straightness.  My horse stays straighter and holds her lead better.  We still have a way to go, but now that I have seen the difference I am a believer in strengthening and balancing the rider to get a straight, balanced horse in whatever discipline that you do.  I look forward to DRT 2!!  Thank you!
Jenny Astbury, Loughborough, UK

Hi Nicola

The DRT1 was great – and I consistently worked on it:  “its only 20 minutes” became my mantra.
I am redoing the whole program before embarking on DRT2 because I still have areas that need improvement I think before moving on.
I am recommending to all my fellow riders.
To use your phrase:  “Great Job!!”
Cathrine Paulsen, Norway
Here is a picture of us during the Norwegian championship for Fjordhorses.
We did the dressage part, one test is a level under FEI pony and the second is at FEI pony level.
We were placed in both 6th and 3rd, and came 4th in the dressage championship.
Thank you for this great program!
Kind regards
Jennifer Solari, Massachusetts, US

Hi Nicola,

The DRT 1 program has improved my seat and boosted my confidence in the saddle. I honestly feel I can handle anything my sensitive, reactive boy might throw at me. I know I’m straighter in the saddle because Rustle now backs up straight. Leg yields are easier for both of us and I can halt him by exhaling into a deeper seat.
Kath Honeck, Victoria, Australia

I have had outstanding results with both the DRT1 and DRT2 programs.  They have helped me get flexible and strong again and made a huge difference in my riding and my ponies are much happier with me now.  I take quarterly dressage lessons from Jose Mendez and he has told me that I should very proud of how much I’ve improved and I know that’s in large part to the exercises.

Attached is a photo of Louie the Lad and myself at the Masters Dressage in Mildura.

Thanks for all the information and friendly videos you share.

Cheers, Kath

Johana Doyle, Idaho, US

Thank you to you and your team. DRT’s carefully sequenced and progressive exercises, both within and between the DRT levels, offers the rider an exceptional opportunity to improve the strength, awareness, alignment and stamina specifically needed for dressage. My progression through the levels was not limited to a single level, but rather built on itself. DRT1 helped me identify my riding related areas of weakness and improve the neural pathways
to activate muscles targeted.

In DRT2 I started to recognize that some of the feelings I experienced during the exercises occurred when I was riding. During riding lessons, the instructor’s goal is always to give you a “feel” so that you can seek and recapture that feeling, thus improving your (and your horse’s) performance. Having an ‘on the ground’ way to practice finding those feelings was extremely valuable. The short duration of the exercises also made it easy to re-do an exercise to get some more repetitions! This was particularly useful for my “diagonal” alignment and postural weaknesses.

Though daunting, DRT3 pulled everything together and kept my progress going forward as it presented exercises to promote consolidation of my progress toward greater coordination, strength and relaxation. A shy no longer caused me to collapse my ribs and loose my seat bone; I stayed upright, barely drifted with the shy and automatically applied leg pressure that stopped the evasion. My horse could hardly believe it! It took all the fun out of it for her and left me astounded and gleeful. As my body and responses improved, so did the horse. She is now straighter, more through, balanced laterally and longitudinally, and freer in her movement. What’s not to like?

Over the course of the programs I found that I actually looked forward to the 3 days of the week when there was an exercise scheduled. That said, there were weeks when I relished the 2 days off. The guided instruction during the sessions was a constant reminder to get the most out of the exercise by doing it correctly. Equally motivating were your admonishes to go at our own pace and alter the difficulty and pacing to meet our current abilities. Your sweat, gasps, shortness of breath, loss of balance and of course, Ellie, made it feel that you were struggling with the rest of us. Misery loves company! During the gap between DRT2 and 3 I redid many of the DRT2 exercises. It was interesting to realize that I was experiencing them differently that the first time through. Clearly my body was changing. I have already begun re-doing DRT3 to continue improving and refining my strength and alignment.

Thanks again to the team! And to Ben who responded graciously and rapidly, answered questions and (I presume) helped create this amazing program.
Johana Doyle

Susan Sheeley, Michigan, US

I am doing DRT2 now. I am 66 years old and I started dressage lessons 4 years ago. It had been 45 years since I had been on a horse. I love how this program has helped my flexibility, balance and confidence! Here I am on Rémy – whom I have had since November – in our first show – red ribbon!

Joanne Korosi, Cambridge Haslingfield, UK

Nicola’s DRT course was recommended to me by an friend and 3* Parelli Instructor, Ruth Carlyle, who now lives in NZ with her partner where they run Russell Higgins Foundation Horsemanship (if you’re interested, Nicola, have a watch of this) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kna6jdXdBUY. I signed up for DRT on this advice as I was struggling with arthritis and wear and tear after over 25 years of practising martial arts. The programme is excellent in that it is progressive, builds strength, balance, focus, flexibility and fitness at a pace to suit the student. You can either just follow the 3 night’s a week core, yoga and rider strength programmes or, if like me, you want maximum benefit and insist on doing something every day, you can supplement your base programme with extra yoga cardio and muscle building training. The programme is excellent for many needs but is especially suited to those of you who, like me, may work full time, have a long commute and have very limited time on an evening after sorting out the horses. I have done every session in my bedroom on a large rug. For the first time, last Sunday, I was able to ride my Haflinger at a sustained canter and my left lower leg stayed put instead of wibbling and wobbling all over. My horses have benefited and my instructors have commented how much improved we are and how the horses are using their core and engines! Thank you, Nicola and Ben for such a great programme. I’m working now on DRT2 and can’t wait for DRT3”

Ulla Seger, Täby, Sweden

Hi Nicola. I finished DRT 3 about 5-5 weeks ago and I now repeat it, right now doing week 6. I have now done DRT 1, DRT 2 and DRT 3.I really have liked all the programs and can feel a big difference in my body but DRT 3 is outstanding. Both the work-out and the yoga. It`s not too difficult, I even found some parts of it easier than DRT 1 and DRT2. As I have some problems with my shoulders, old injuries and arthritis. I especially appreciate the exercises with the resistance band. I have to admit that I have to struggle with the side-plank exercises because of my weak arm (also old injuries ) in combination with my shoulder arthritis I have to take a rest during those exercises but I do not think this is a catastrophe and I do feel a big difference in my core when riding.

I ride once a week at our Riding school because it`s fun and I think my own horse has benefit from this as you learn a lot from riding different horses. Some weeks ago Isabel talked about Hip mobility and told us that most riders are very stiff in the hipjoint. She then walked up to each of us and grabbed our thighs and rotated the hip joint outwards from the saddle. So she grabbed my left thigh and exclaimed your hip joint is very movable. It was a bit funny because I`m twice as old or more than the other riders in my group. Well I`m still able to go down split but I do it better after DRT.

I have read at the facebook group that some members are doubtful about to start DRT 3, tell them , They can! I will turn 73 this year so if I can. they can.
I `m completely dependent on the progam and of course I will order THE DRT 3 USB so I can go on for the rest of my life.

Lots of regards Ulla Seger

Kathy Landin

What do I appreciate about DRT 2? Wow,  DRT 2 has increased my strength and made me more flexible. My posture off the horse is so much more upright. As we age, gravity tends to pull us down. I look in the mirror and my shoulders are back and my back is straight. I have the posture of a person younger than my 62 years! And I feel good! I love DRT1 and 2! I had never done yoga until I started DRT1 and I love it! It is stretching (literally), relaxing and refreshing. The core workouts are very challenging for me but so helpful in riding. I find the rider strength to be the easier of the workouts so I love them. I want to work on DRT 2 until next winter when I hope to sign up for DRT 3. I should be ready by then!
Thank you!!

Sharon Perkins, Australia

I am so happy to have enrolled in Dressage Rider Training.

I first heard of Nicola’s program in June last year, when a number of fellow participants in a Dressage Retreat recommended it.

Until then, while I’ve been rigorous about fitness training over the years, I hadn’t thought a great deal about the importance of targeting muscles that are specific to riding.

I didn’t really even know which muscles were particularly relevant!

And, despite many years at the gym, my riding muscles were definitely in need of attention!

DRT has helped me to gain a much better awareness of those essential body parts that need to be strong for riding as well as how to train them.

I love how beautifully structured DRT is .. the way it builds on understanding and physical fitness across the weeks.

And I’m delighted to find there are more advanced DRTs to come.

I also love how realistic the program is – immediately relevant to riding and achievable in terms of time commitment.

Thank you Nicola.. still working through DRT1, but I’ll be back for more :)”

This is my lovely boy – Schau Mich An (nickname – Raz)

Susanna Ryan, Massachusetts, US

By the end of DRT1, I had gained strength and skill that I never could have imagined, and it was profoundly gratifying to be able to take that foundation and move on to new challenges in DRT2. The Swiss ball, which used to be my nemesis, is now my favorite part of the workouts! Most of all, I cannot overstate the difference DRT2 has made to my riding. Both my regular trainer and a guest clinician we have come regularly to the barn have commented on the dramatic improvement in my strength and my position. In addition, I am much more confident in the saddle because I am able to stay steady and balanced no matter what happens. I do this all for my horse, Walter, as he is a gem who deserves the best — and we are doing much more advanced, harmonious work together now because I am better for him!

Anke B, Muscat, Oman

Hi Nicola, You really put in a lot of efforts to make the program both enjoyable and beneficial. I profited most from the last four weeks I think, because those exercises were really different and new to me. Challenging in a different way! My riding got way better (Coach says), so I take that as a testimonial for success.

Honestly I wouldn’t have thought I’d EVER be able to kneel on the Swiss Ball and do adventurous stuff like lifting weights or pulling resistance tubes at the same time without falling down and breaking my neck. Very good progression of exercises! I’ll be 50 this year, and I can comfortably say I am way fitter and probably stronger than I was in my 30ies or 40ies. Thank you for being a part of that!

I am going to repeat the program, as I did with the previous DRTs, and hope I’ll still improve.

Thanks a lot for the program and maybe we’ll get a DRT4 one day??

Best wishes


Sharon Barber, Texas, US

Nicola, The dressage classes have been very helpful for balance, posture, and strength. I certainly enjoy them and have signed up for the third part. Thanks for all the educational articles as well!

Sarah Hazel, Oxford, UK

I have always done some form of Keep Fit ( from spinning/weights/pilates) but no one has ever explained it the way do. I was a bit sceptical at first, but will definitely be recommending this program to people. I suffered an achy back in January which stopped me progressing through DRT1 until it was sorted. I am at week 8 now and love the way you have incorporated Riding into your program. I have not been to my usual classes since Feb and can see the difference in just doing your 20 mins classes. Thank you

Fenella Nevill, New Zealand

This was taken Tuesday 16 April, 2019, morning autumn training. I think my position has improved dramatically, particularly my posture, and ability to engage my core and plug in my seat bones. My lower leg position needs work but the riding without stirrups is really helping and Pumpkin is working much more through her body as a result. Before, she was stiff in her back and not in front of my leg all the time because I was tipping forward.

Thank you so much for putting together a programme that helps riders get better! We are usually all about the horse and we forget how we can improve ourselves :}

I have found the DRT programme to be a real turning point in my riding, and I am really looking forward to DRT2

Many thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

Katy Kingston, Surrey, United Kingdom

DRT1 and DRT2 have been the most wonderful journey for me. I mostly did them to improve my riding but also to see if they would help alleviate back pain I have had for over 20 years. After DRT1 my back was much more flexible and stronger and I am delighted to say now at the end of DRT2 it’s completely gone! My riding has come on leaps and bounds, my instructor is amazed at my progress and I feel on top of the world! Onwards and upwards to DRT3!

Nancy Sullivan, Colorado

This program has helped me build confidence that I needed as much as strength training and balance. I can isolate calf and thigh pressure as needed, correct off-balance movements, keep my shoulders down and relaxed with more ease, which means I relax and go with my horse. I love the “conversation” we have. Still, working on keeping my reins soft with a steadier outside rein and more fluid, dynamic inside rein, because, of course, I’m still working on riding from my seat! Still mastering that Swiss ball too! I will be doing DRT3 to help me with a new horse I’m working with. He is part Arab and has lots of go, so I want to ride that with quiet joy and confidence. And I have so loved the FB posts with all the frank discussions about the devils we struggle with. Good to know there are other people who have days when it takes all the courage you have to put your foot in that stirrup, swing your leg over and hope the magic carries you both.

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