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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Karen Bahrman – Skandia, USA

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

Becky Auker – Oregon, USA

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

Steph Bradley

Hi Nicola,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes,


Stephanie Park – China

The DRT Program helped me get through the recent China Covid lockdowns. I jumped out of bed in the morning to do the exercisees, because I knew I was doing something to help me improve my riding. This summer I’m hoping to get back on the horse and travel to Inner Mongolia and the Tibetan regions for some “wild riding” in a good old-fashioned Western sadde, sleeping in tents, and running free across the countryside. That’s what this program is helping me work toward, and I can’t wait!

Kathi Heiber

I was planning on just repeating DRT1 on my own -but was inspired enough by the progress I had made in following DRT1 AND reading the testimonials by others to stick my neck out and follow DRT2 to the best of my ability- What a difference it has made!! I happened to do one of the 21 day Yoga retreats in the break period- and jumped in with all enthusiasm and equipment for DRT2 – ( and for the stamina part I have been swimming on average 3 days a week) I am so pleasantly pleased with the fitness improvement- and my body awareness as it applies to my riding and my general posture/ life . And all for my 3 workouts a week – ( I confess I have not been that diligent with the homework- but perhaps NOW – as I repeat DRT2 in the coming quarter – I will add in those extra pieces). I am quite sure I was able to ride out a few bucks and spooks in the past 2 weeks- due to my new core strength and balance . I have been most impressed with how much fitness is really needed to ride dynamically – in harmony – with my horse….

Thanks very much for such a wonderful program
It has been a great winter due to this personal growth on my part to be bringing to my 21 year old riding partner .
( and I was glad to see that the average age is 55- of the participants- )

Kathi Heiber

Polina Alber – Massachusetts, USA

Hi Nicola, DRT 1 helped me a lot to stay in the saddle and ride with more confidence. My instructor noticed continuous balance and posture improvements as I was going through the program. I am progressing on keeping my boy more engaged and forward. Last week we reached major milestone in canter. I am planning to repeat DRT 1 on my own and continue with DRT2 in 3 months. Thanks, Polina

Margaret – Ottawa

Hi Nicola,

If I had a horse at this time, I would love that too! Unfortunately, my personal circumstances at age 80+, don’t allow me the infinite pleasure of having a horse of my own again. For years I was an active member of the Ottawa Valley Hunt and used to foxhunt twice a week. I’m also a certified riding coach and taught able and disabled riding for years at the local equestrian park. I still teach a friend occasionally.

It’s only at this age that I fully understand “use it or lose it”! After reading so many comments posted to the DRT FB page by women with severe health issues and severe restrictions who are determined to get back on their horses, I realize just how blessed I have been and still am. I’ve taken my good health for granted. Now I don’t…

I have been using the DRT (along with walking over the winter) to slowly improve my body’s health, strength, balance, flexibility, etc. that has been eroded over time by having insufficient physical activity. It has been and still is my hope that, by following the program (even though at this point I’m only repeating weeks 3 and 4) it will allow me to ride a friend’s horse safely at more than a walk, having a reasonable seat, and without being really afraid I’ll hurt myself in some way.

Your program is excellent. Your teaching skill and knowledge are also excellent. Because of the improvements that have already taken place in my physical capacity and mental and emotional wellbeing, my family are not only happy to see me glowing with more energy, but are also encouraging “Mom” to get back on a horse.

I hope you realize how life-changing your DRT program is! In a few weeks, when it’s more reasonable riding weather and the ground had dried up here in the Ottawa Valley region, I will get back on a horse, and I will take a photo to send to you with much gratitude.

Meanwhile, keep up the wonderful work that you are doing. I will keep on promoting it!

Most sincerely,


Glenda Hartley

Hi Nicola,
This is my new, 4 yo horse who I was having some challenges with. Over the last 3 months with the discipline of your program which has built my strength, physically, mentally and emotionally thus my confidence.
Hence our relationship has improved and moved from a horse who may need to be sold, to a horse much loved and we are moving forward with joy.
Thank you, I shall repeat the program to reinforce it.
Congratulations to you.
Glenda Hartley

Nicola Parker-Webb – Otago, New Zealand

I absolutely love DRT3…in fact all of the programmes!! I feel very fortunate to have found Foreverfit and DRT. I feel stronger, more balanced, more flexible, and fitter as a person and more effective as a rider. Workouts are challenging, fun, and easy to follow. Nicola has a great positive energy and morning workouts set the tone for the rest of the day 🙂 I am super excited to be continuing the journey and heading into DRT4 next 🙂

Thanks so much 🙂

Sue Wallace – Cooma, Australia

Just a quick word of encouragement for anyone who has just bought a big stepping horse and is now shocked that you find the stride is impossible to sit. This happened to me about a year ago when I swapped from Matilda, a 16.2hh stockhorse X WB with fairly ordinary movement to Mindy, a 17hh high stepping Clydesdale X ThB. Wow, doing sitting trot, I felt like I was a beginner all over again. Instructors kept repeating “core strength” at me. OK, I took their advice and registered in DRT. DRT 1 was great for me, and each week I felt I was making process. My ability to be more than just a sitting trot passenger on Mindy improved remarkably over the weeks of DRT1. As Mindy’s engagement improves, I now feel that I need more fitness. Consequently I have had to take DRT2 slower, often repeating some work outs and diligently following the homework in order to develop the fitness. I can’t wait to be able to jog for 5 minutes comfortably. Increasing age may prevent me ever achieving Week 12 of DRT 3, but I don’t think I will ever give up my regular DRT workouts. Thanks Nicola.

Pia Rennekamp – Schwerte, Germany

I am very happy to have found this training. It is very balanced with the different focus and homework. I will definitely review it and then consider doing DRT 2 as well. Probably not until it is available in German though, as it is easier after all.
Overall it has definitely helped my stability in the saddle, there are moments when I slide deeper into the saddle instead of out to the front during startle moments! My hands are also more independent than before! All in all, of course – if you are over 60 – it takes longer until the old patterns are overwritten. The only thing that helps is consistent training and, in the truest sense of the word, staying on the ball!

Ann Trausch – Oregon USA

I was looking for a program that would help me with my flexibility and to have a more secure seat when I ride. I knew from storing 2-1/2 tons of hay last summer it was not about the strength. The DRT program has been so much more for me and at the right time. I thoroughly enjoy the workouts and the options if you have injuries that do not allow you to bend a particular way. Nicola and Ben are incredibly supportive and the website has so many other resources to help you become a better rider. On my last dressage lesson my instructor complimented me on how much quieter and connected to my horse. Thank you DRT! Ann

Linda Dixon

Hi Nicola,
I’ve been doing DRT for several years now. I’ve done DRT 4 three times plus I’m just finishing Phase 3 of DRT 4 a fourth time. I have hip replacement surgery on February 9 so I won’t be able to do any more for a while.
I had my pre op Physio appointment last week and the PT told me I was in was in good shape and that would help me recover quickly from the surgery. I owe that to you and DRT!
Thank you for this program! It has helped me immensely! I’m going to miss not getting up in the morning and doing my workout but I’m hoping that I will be able to get back at it before too long! I might have to start back at DRT 1 but I will definitely be back!
Thank you again!
Linda Dixon

Wendy MacLean

Hi, Here is a photo of me on my horse called Trouble(very hard to get a good photo). I have completed DRT1 and started DRT2. I am determined not to miss any sessions even if I am a day or two late. I am quite addicted to this program as I have seen and felt amazing results such as being able to sit to big sideways leaps and not moving out of the saddle. I have never done any no stirrup work until DRT1 and have lowered my stirrups since. I feel very comfortable doing this now and feel so much more balanced. I highly recommend this program to anyone, rider or not. I especially love the yoga. Thanks Wendy MacLean

Fleta Sokal

Hi Nicola
I have just finished DRT2. It’s an awesome program and keeps me motivated to keep exercising. I did have to modify many poses and was not able to do many this time around but I am restarting the 12 weeks. (I did have an unplanned dismount after a cat ran right across our path while we were cantering, a gait I’m not as balanced at. So I did modify some upper body poses since I had a mild T5 compression fracture). I still found it very helpful and hope to be able to do more of the poses this time through. Still barely kneeling on the ball so those exercises will come later. At almost 67 I feel stronger and more balanced since doing DRT1 and DRT2 then ever before. I definitely would and have recommended your programs.
Fleta Sokal

Lauren Hughes – Victoria, Australia

Hi Nicola,

I have enjoyed DRT1, although I’m still working on completing weeks 9-12 including all the homework, etc. I plan to consolidate this before signing up for DRT2 in the next opening.

As for the benefits, the improvement in my riding has been great as expected, but I’ve found the benefits in my everyday life were the surprise. I ride one horse a few times a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on what’s happening that week, both training and competing. I’m regaining my fitness after baby number 3, with 3 kids,
6 and under. The fitness I gained has made it easier to manage the day to day of the household plus feel stronger to complete the more physical things required.
Completing the modules with their dressage focus appeals to me compared to an ordinary gym program. Thankyou Nicola for a great program.


Joyce Casady

It took me a little while to figure out how I wanted to talk about this program. To be honest, I think it has changed my life and health for the better.
I am 77 years old. My horse is 21 and has had some lameness issues, which have prevented me from riding consistently. DRT has kept me fit enough to get on when he’s having a good day and know I am secure in the saddle if he sees “dragons in the woods”.
I was very consistent with DRT 1 AND 2. Had a little trouble staying on track with DRT3. My scheduling and commitments kept getting in the way. What I found, however, is that I could jump back in and continue the program whenever I had the time. It so consistently builds strength, bit by bit, that you keep it.
I also found myself hearing Nicola’s voice in my head, even when just out walking my dog. We compete in Agility and Rally and a few other active canine sports. DRT has kept me fit for all these things, not just for riding.
I can’t say enough good things about these programs. I love how each thing can be tailored to each individual so all can benefit wherever they are.
Thank you Nicola and gang for being part of my life.

Sue Berry

“What can I say about DRT that hasn’t been said before! It truly is an amazing program. As an older rider (with lots of replacement parts due to horse accidents!) I did feel that I should perhaps retire from riding. However – DRT virtually saved my body and allowed me to continue with my passion. It took me 2 years to get through DRT1 (many stops and starts and then my property was lost in the fires and my horse badly burned). However, I wanted to give it one last shot and Nicola’s program had not only supported me in my endeavours to go back to riding but has improved my body and riding amazingly. I finaly finished DRT 1 and then moved onto DRT2 and the difference in my position, core strength and balance has been incredible. I so want to be the best I can be for my beautiful mare and she is benefiting the most which is fabulous. Nicola’s support and attitude is wonderful. I never feel pressured or a failure when I stumble – just encouraged to try again. Thank you so much Nicola – you have helped me continue with my passion and I look forward to the next DRT program with great joy.
Sue “

Stephanie Belisle – QC, Canada

Hi Nicola,
Sorry for being a month late in replying to your request, I had missed it.

I am almost done with DRT 2 – I am missing only one Core and one Strength routine of week #12. When I like a routine, I tend to repeat it a couple of times before I move to the next. This is something that I have been doing differently in DRT 2 compared to DRT 1 where I was rushing in following the schedule as much as possible.

I continue enjoying the program. I think I like it even more, since I make progress in my ability to perform the proposed exercices and see the benefits every time I ride. I feel more balanced in the saddle, my abdominals help me stay forward into the motion, my legs are longer, my upper back is straighter. My natural standing position has also improved with my upper back stronger.

In one of the yoga sessions during DRT 2, you mention that the combinations of exercices that we are doing are helping keeping our stability in the saddle in case a horse spooks, and I can tell you that it’s true. One of the horse I ride right now is a PRE 17h2 and he can be pretty naughty. I am feeling more much confident when I sit on him since I started the program – thanks to DRT 2.

I can tell you too that I carry my DRT 2 program with me even when I have to travel for work. No excuse. I either do the routine in my hotel room or in the gym, if one is available. So, I stick to it, no matter what.

This newsletter you send us on regular basis does complement well the program. It allows pushing further and deeper my level of reflection in how I want to become a better person for my own self.

Your program is contributing to my calmness and this is what I need in my day-to-day life at work where I have a stressful job and where often I have to present to upper management. Breathing through the belly and harvesting the culture of calmness has brought wonderful fruits. I received today great feedback from my manager on how strong my presentations are when I report about the project I lead.

Lastly, I believe I had told you in my previous testimony that I suffer from Juvenile Arthritis since I was 16 (I am now 41, almost 42 lol), DRT2 is for me a key ingredient to keep my body supple and active. Stretching and keeping my core strong have been part of my daily routine for more than 15 years. Your program goes in the same direction. By following you during the different sessions, on top of having a lot of fun, I am also investing time and energy in keeping my level of pain low, making me a better rider and a better person. What else can I ask for ?

As you can see, you don’t need to convince me to pursue the journey with DRT 3 and DRT 4. You can count me in ! I am your fan no 1.

The pictures I included are from videos.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you Happy Holidays and a Sparkling Happy New Year 2022 !!

Thanks a lot,

Judi Stewart – Oteha, New Zealand

Hi Nicola, I am an older person who wants to get back into riding, after having been more or less grounded for about 15 years now, so I undertook your program to try and regain some fitness and flexibility while searching for a safe and sensible smallish hack, suitable for a lady of “mature years”.

I’ve also been doing quite a bit of trekking with a trekking centre at Waiwera, just to get some saddle time and regain some confidence after such a long break and have found that even there my riding posture has improved as I’ve worked through the course material.

I’m happy to report that your program has definitely helped – especially the shorter yoga and pilates sessions which I find really easy to fit into my working day.

Thank you for your help and inspiration – now all I need is to find the right horse!

Katja Mueller – Deutschland, Germany

Dear Nicola, I truely enjoyed DRT 3, so far it has been my favourite programme. The different workout mode – doing as many repetitions as you can in a certain time frame instead of doing a certain number of repetitions – really forced me to give it my all.

I found it challenging, exhausting (very often dripping and shaking after the 20 minutes) and at the same time incredibly satisfying and beneficial. My strength and stability have improved so much during the last weeks.

In my experience the results were noticeable even quicker than during DRT 1 and 2 as I was touching my boundaries more often and the exercises were often working on two goals at the same time , e.g. balance and strength.

I also loved the work on our fascia during the yoga and mobility sessions which really helped me identify and loosen some deeply hidden tightnesses in my body (although I missed the good old straight forward yoga and had to do a bit on the side ;).

So, I am definetely up to continue the journey, DRT has truely become a part of my life and I don’t want to miss out in the future 🙂

Thank you for all the thought and effort you put in the program, you certainly did a great job!

Kind regards from Germany

Cristina Capanescu – Tabernacle, USA

Hi Nicola, I think DRT3 was definitely a level up from the previous programs.

DRT1 was basic and progressed well to improve balance and help identify and strengthen all the moving parts.

DRT2 helped coordinate the parts further, and the fitness and yoga became more challenging as well.

DRT3 provided a new approach and way of thinking about how we connect those parts. I really enjoyed the workouts which were more physically challenging, but I especially appreciated the focus on diagonals, fascial planes and brain training and reaction times.

This new mindset has really helped my riding, more than I expected. I look forward to DRT4!

Kathi Heiber – New York, USA

This is Lily ( Shagya Arabian) and me after finishing a dressage test at a combined training event in September …. We have devolved over the years to just doing the Green Bean division ( due to jumping issues…) We are getting much better as a team in our 9 years together ( she was 10 yrs old , an unbroken brood mare when I got her- and I thought it would be a 6 month project….)

The 12 week program this fall was a great discipline = and taught me that – relatively short efforts = done regularly- pay off with improvement in my fitness on all accounts- and now enjoying the 21 day yoga retreat-

My goal has been to improve both Lily and my fitness level as we are about even in our early senior years together= we have 7.5 more years to qualify for a ‘century ride’.

Thanks for putting together such an easy to follow program with gentle guidance and alternatives when needed to be able to stay on track.

Janet Holliday – Auckland, New Zealand

Hi lovely, I am loving Phase 1 of the DRT program. It has strengthened my core and given me so much better balance and posture . Love your encouragement and all the user friendly aspects of the online program. It has also been so beneficial for me as I am having to go through rehabilitation following knee surgery. The options provided for the exercises are fabulous for this ! Love everything about it!

Victoria Wall – Waikato, New Zealand

“I can highly recommend the Dressage Rider Training program. It most certainly will improve your strength, power and stability and make you a more effective rider. The memory stick is a great investment, so you can keep it always. I am very glad I jumped in and started this program … it has been a wonderful resource and I look forward to continue using it in the future. Targeted rider fitness is critical if your goal is to be best you can be. “

Nicole Lewin – Durham, UK

Loved the course. I have to admit initially I was sceptical however as the course has progressed I have been honestly amazed at the improvement in my flexibility, balance and core strength!

I would recommend the course to anyone who I serious about improving their seat and riding stability.

I enrolled on the course as I felt my riding had lost its sparkle and I knew there was ‘something’ missing. After 3 c sections I had lost my mojo and knew my seat wasn’t as deep as it once was.

What an improvement! I’m now obsessed with my ball!!!

Thank you soooo much.

Annemarie Yoder – Pennsylvania, USA

I am a firm believer that without the DRT program I would not be progressing as a rider. I rode for 7 years and did not pay attention to the fact that I was unbalanced and out of shape. The difference now is stark, I no longer lean to the right, I am better able to keep my hands quiet and I am happy to say our cantering has improved. I love the yoga classes and the 20 minute routines are easily done early before work. At 65, I can now kneel on the ball and row a boat, WOW, that’s progress! I was unsure if I would be able to do the DRT 3, but I’m done and looking forward to the next series. This program is worth every penny , thanks, Nicola!

Renate Nelson – Mount Rumney, Australia

Dear Nicola

Yes I completed DRT4 on time. However I was a bit slack with the sprints.

I am so glad of this program. I was dubious purchasing DRT4 because I thought what could it offer differently from the other DRT programs.

However I realised this is just what I needed and it compliments the others.
It is different because I came to realise the weight training is important if I want to keep my bones strong. Also resistance training important too. I was surprised Yoga was different because lot more stretching but just so important if I am going to ride well.

And I do feel more aligned in my body too, even though I used to feel crooked after riding.
However my eight year old horse is not getting away with much now , we are becoming more aligned together.

I biggest problem now is too choose which of your programs to follow?

As a now 65 yr old, It was all about hips and mobility when I first started and got stuck with this path, but now training the upper body has really benefited me and my posture.

I find USB very handy for me as I don’t have to put glasses on exercising.
Maybe if anything different is something added as, go to, search for what I need.
But I heavily rely on your sessions for motivation . And I always enjoy your inspirations to keep working at it. I do have dressage goals- so thankyou that you are part of my journey.

Lynette McMoran – North Carolina, USA

Hello Nicola,

When I started DRT 1 my trainer suggested it. I didn’t really want to do it because I was with a personal trainer and doing yoga on a regular basis. Once I started, I was committed to following per your schedule. I noticed minor improvements in my riding as I proceeded. I wanted to do DRT 2 to continue to improve my riding.

Then I moved 800 miles from all that was familiar, along with a “spooky” horse. I really wanted to do DRT 3 because of the improvements I’d experienced in the first 2 sessions and it was familiar to me in a new place.

WOW, the structure was different. Much more concentrated on the coordination that I needed to continue to communicate with my horse. He became more confident and not spooky any more. The only thing I can’t conquer is the balance ball, which I continue to work on. I strongly believe that your approach with the neuropaths is EXCELLENT. I feel coordinated up there on my horse and when he does do something unexpected, I don’t panic anymore but put myself back into position to encourage him to listen to me.

Your enthusiasm with each lesson keeps me coming back for more. It is a bright spot in my day.

I hope to hear from you soon about DRT 4. Love that you show your animals and talk to them during the workouts.

I am 69 years old and was in good physical condition when I began DRT 1, but now I feel that I am coordinated as well with DRT 3.

Keep up your enthusiasm and I look forward to working with you some more.

Thank you.

Anna Tobler – Lengwil, Switzerland

DRT 2 was so super cool! Some of the workouts are quite intense but always so much fun – I enjoyed every minute of it.

My balance improved significantly and I really notice a positive impact on my riding. Recently my riding teacher told me that I‘m sitting much better – was really happy about the external feedback to complement my own impression.

Thank you so much for this entertaining, super effective and absolute amazing DRT program Nicola!!

Julie Maconochie – North Somerset, UK

Hiya, so I’ve just finished DRT3 🙌 and think I only fell about a week behind 🤔🤩

I have to say I have found all 3 DRT’s perfect for the stage I was at at the time. DRT1 I wasn’t consistent with so found it tougher but the others I’ve really been as strict and consistent as I could be and that’s where I have found the benefit and improvement

DRT3 has really made me realise how far I have come. I love the fact they are such short but powerful sessions and offer just the right challenges as we go through. With core and rider strength I like the 4 rounds of 1 minute each ..partly as only a minute each exercise just feels manageable even if hard so no excuse to give up and partly as you know there’s only 4 rounds when It gets really hard !!
Yoga is my favourite tbh and often the one I repeat each week…. Rider strength I never repeat 😜

I will be repeating DRT3 now with a mix of the others just as a reminder and be ready for DRT4

Thanks for offering such great programs and the online gym (and smoothies!!) …wouldn’t be without them all even tho I don’t use all to their full potential!


Skye Cunich – NSW, Australia

Hello Nicola, Just wanted to thank you for another fabulous DRT program.

I’ve loved it so much, I think I’m addicted. I so look forward to the work outs and loving the positive impact it’s having on my riding and confidence.

Interestingly, more recently I’ve had so many comments on how fit and healthy I’m looking.

And I know Albert, my horse, would like to thank you too.

I’m very much looking forward to doing more DRT programs in the new year!!

Many thanks – Skye and Albert!!

Lillian Spencer – Arizona, USA

I am a 56 yr old woman, and I have been riding on and off for 30 years. About 7 years ago I got my own horse, and started to ride, jumper discipline, in earnest. I thought that riding a few times a week and a little side exercise would be enough to keep me in good shape. Last spring, I had a fall and needed to take a couple months off to rehab. I didn’t want to lose conditioning, so I decided the time was right to finally try the DRT program, which I had been thinking about for years. I am so glad I did! It turned out that I wasn’t in good condition at all, and that probably contributed to the fall I had. Doing DRT 1 showed me that I was not strong enough in my core and my legs to be a solid rider, and it helped put me on the correct path. I immediately went on to DRT 2, which proved to be challenging in a positive, exciting way. My strength, balance, and mobility all increased a hundredfold, and as a result, I feel so much more secure in the saddle. I was able to compete in a two-day show, which I would never have been able to do before this program.

I love the way Nicola has organized it, providing three short workouts a week that can be done as often as wanted, and combined in different ways. It is great that the workouts are all a little bit different, so they are never boring. Nicola provides a cheery and helpful commentary, and always seems ‘human’, which is so important in a coach. One of the best parts is that the program comes with a wonderful, supportive community of users through social media- knowing people who are going through similar adventures makes it more fun! And the access to the Online Gym provides so much supplemental material. I rave about DRT to all my equestrian friends, and I can’t recommend it enough!”

Shirley Paterson – Tauranga, New Zealand

Dear Nicola, I feel like this program DRT 1 was designed for me. Love the flexibility of being able to exercise at home when I can fit it in. The variety and all the extras such as the meditation series ( my fav). Rider specific exercises …I do feel stronger and more secure in the saddle. My horse did an impressive spook, worthy of the Spanish riding school when a plastic chair got blown across the arena… I stuck on ! Really supportive and positive online group also. Attached a photo of myself and my girl Honey .

Sue Pacanowski

Hello Nicola,

I just finished the last session of DRT4….YAY! I must say, I feel much stronger and more balanced. However, since I don’t have a horse to ride regularly, I can’t say much about how my riding may have improved. My husband commented that I looked more confident and balanced when I was able to ride a while ago, and I felt that.

As for the program, I enjoyed the timed format. I felt like I used every muscle in my body. I don’t know how you can continue talking through the exercises! Seeing Elly help you occasionally is a plus…she’s so cute.

Take care,
Sue Pacanowski

Vera Jagendorf – Corbett, Oregon

Hello, thank you a fantastic rider fitness training program. Although I have not jet mastered kneeling on the swiss ball, the program has been fantastic for my overall fitness and riding.

I am a active 66 year old woman. Even though I’ve been riding most of my life, I got serious about dressage and working equitation in 2016 when I retired. Although my riding has improved, it is never enough for my horse. I seem to lack the strength to ride correctly, and he is sensitive and reactive. I hike 18 miles a week with substantial elevation, so my cardio and general fitness are good. I joined the local gym for core and yoga classes. These seemed to help but were not targeted to an equestrian.

Then I tried to find a personal trainer, none at the gym knew anything about riding. And then covid hit and the gym was no longer an option. I started getting DRT emails and seeing it on FB feeds so I decided to check it out. Given how much I spend on lessons it seemed like I couldn’t go wrong.

In DRT 1 I was immediately surprised at how weak my core was. Fast forward to finishing DRT2. I am very impressed with the overall fitness approach, explanation and demonstration of the exercises, the variety and the structure. The classes are short so I frequently do 2 at a time, or add my own yoga/stretching before a core or strength class. I love that they are short because some days I just don’t mentally have it in me but “come on you can do just 20 minutes” and before I know it I’ve done that and more. And I love your kiwi accent coaching me on and explaining the movements.

And the good news is that as my core has strengthened, my back has not been tweaked for several months now, my overall flexibility has improved and my riding, wow, I am able to keep a longer leg in the saddle while cantering and can actually feel that my lower half of my body can move independently while my upper body stays more still and balanced.

I notice that my horse is less resistant to my aids and less braced in transitions. We still have a ways to go on this journey but I think I have found one of the important foundations to keeping me in the saddle for as long as I live.

Thank you so much!

I am looking forward to DRT3.

Alyson Behr – Rancho Santa Fe, United States

I am 65, have two hip replacements, have had a few strokes, and I’ve taught myself to walk again twice. Riding is my therapy. DRT2 made it possible for me to regain my balance, strength, and stamina enough to have the confidence to go back up centerline. My horse Iain Jaime MacLeod (aka Impression x #Everdale) is super sensitive and very laterally supple, in other words, he’s a little Ferrari. He’s never naughty and he never runs out of energy. Nicola’s course is giving me the balance, strength, and timing I need to confirm his flying changes. I confess, I have a love/hate relationship with DRT2. It’s hard and challenges me, but I suck it up because when I get on Iain, I love that I’ve stuck with the program. I feel a huge difference in my ability to communicate clearly with him. Iain and I both love the difference DRT2 has made in our relationship. If you’re on the fence about signing up, hop off it and just do it. It’s amazing. Thank you Nicola!

Holly Harrington – Maryland, USA

I cannot begin to describe how important DRT has been to my riding, my personal fitness and my mental health. I began DRT1 in January 2021, with my gym closed and the pandemic in full force. I found the 20-minute sessions easy to fit into my schedule and enjoyed them! I downloaded all the sessions and repeated weeks as necessary. Then I repeated the whole 12 weeks. I found the yoga particularly challenging. In September I started DRT 2, which was definitely a step up. Again, I’d repeat weeks if things moved a bit too fast for me. The difference in my riding is a great motivator. I enjoy Nicola’s style and the focus on exercises specific to riders. The cameos with her pup and horse are an added bonus. Please don’t hesitate to sign up! By the way, I’m a 63-year-old and I take lessons with riders half my age!

Carolyn Hooton – Waikato, New Zealand

Hi Nicola. Myself and “Echo” today at Showjumping (at lovely Tauranga). Along with many others, Echo is quite spooky but I’m finding it a bit easier to stay balanced when it happens.

I’ve really enjoyed the workouts, I’ve lost a bit of weight, and my belt is doing up more, so a win win from me 😊

Thanks heaps.

Jane Saunders – Waikato, New Zealand

Hi Nicola, Your programme is so amazing and also enjoyable. I love how the exercises are different each time. My sitting trot has really improved and I feel way more stable and able to manage any surprising spooks!! Looking forward to DRT 2! Here’s a photo of me and Sparky. We got a 1st and 2nd place in Show Hunter this winter woohoo. I hadn’t competed for over 40 years!!

Janet Peters – Monmouthshire, United Kingdom

Hi Nicola, I have really enjoyed following DRT1, and have managed to fit the 20 minute sessions into my days quite well. Knowing that they are short really helps!

I feel much more evenly balanced in the saddle, and sitting trot without stirrups is now quite comfortable, and can be sustained for a long time. I look forward to getting even better and stronger when DRT2 starts.

Many thanks Nicola, these sessions cheer up our winter days!

Mariann Jakobsen – Lynge, Denmark

So delighted about this programme. Being a rider all my life – and wanting to do dressage – I never thought of how much impact my body have on the horse – and the way she mives. Realizing that the #teamwork# is so crucial. After 10 years with my lovely mare – we have grown immensely together – during DRT 1+2. Great fun – challenging – and a way to get myself back on track – after a knee injury back in Feb 21.

April Sarna – California, USA

Hi Nicola, I really have benefited from DRT 3. I feel much stronger and more balanced and my trainer has noticed as well

Before I found your program I was wondering if I would be able to ride much longer. At 64 I had just had a lunge line lesson on my horse and was so exhausted I fell off at the halt trying to dismount and broke my wrist. Luckily I found your program and started DRT1, previous to this I tried to keep in shape by jogging an hour a day

Now I am able to take 4 dressage lessons per week on both my 6 and 3 year old German riding honies. I also trail ride my older horse several times per week and have taken your advice about walking daily.
I feel stronger than I did in my twenties!

I like the 20 minute format and especially the layout in drt 3. My only concern is sometimes the videos don’t play and say thumbnail sketch in the corner. Ben updated it so now I can do the homework on you tube so problem solved!

I have been doing the sessions double each week so I do 6 workouts weekly. I am addicted to the sessions and feel better if I have my daily dose of drt! Thank you so much for your program and encouraging comments during the videos, I tell my husband I’m getting ready for my second childhood!

Can’t wait for drt4!

Casey Zandbergen – British Columbia, Canada

Hi Nicola! I finished DRT3 yesterday and wow, I feel amazing!

After doing DRT1 and DRT2, I definitely came into it feeling strong but DRT3 did challenge me in a good way. To my surprise there were quite a few exercises that I could do the “harder” version of to challenge myself and I also found quite a few exercises that I was challenged just doing the initial exercise (shoulder exercises lol).

I am super pleased with how strong I feel. The focus of DRT3 was perfect. All the exercises were perfectly increased to build a strong core for riding dressage. Thank you so much! I really enjoyed it!

I look forward to DRT4.

Thanks again!

Susan Ploughman – Ottawa, Canada

My little thoroughbred is very narrow and I was having trouble keeping my balance and it was really affecting her balance. With lots of good coaching at my barn and persistent work with the DRT program, I have improved my balance and a more relaxed strength.

Full disclosure lol, didn’t do any no stirrups work yet, but I can kneel on that balance ball and I’m amazed at how 3×20 minute workouts with stretching and foam rolling homework can have such a positive effect on all aspects of my life. I’m a 55 yo amateur rider.

Fairly new to riding as I took over care of my daughter’s semi retired hunter and fell in love with horses. My new mare is teaching me so much and I feel a responsibility to « step up my fitness game ». Looking forward to DRT2. Here is a snap from a recent fun show at my boarding barn. I can sit up taller in the saddle !!

Tristan McLachlan – Katoomba, Australia

Hi Nicola, I’ve really enjoyed my 3rd DRT. The online gym is part of my life now and has been for several years. When I’m not redoing one of the DRT programs, I enjoy dipping into other programs. Lately I’ve been really enjoying the yoga retreats, filmed in such lovely locations.

I found the work on the fascia quite challenging in the first phase of the program. Sometimes after a work out I would feel a bit over sensitive, like my nerve endings were tingling but I seem to have adjusted as I’ve worked through the program. I particularly like exercises on the balance ball and probably would’ve like more of them.

I love the way you connect what we’re doing with how it relates in the saddle and to dressage. This really helps me focus on specific muscle groups that I need to strengthen.

I also love the horse you ride in the opening titles, he’s a beauty, he looks so relaxed in his body and stride. I have a chestnut horse and when I visualise what I want him to be like, I’m inspired by your horse and how he seems to move so effortlessly. Keep up the good work.

Sandra Markutt – Richterswil, Sweden

In fact, DRT1 did not only improve my riding significantly but also helps me in my everyday-life. I was in physiotherapy for many months because of my back and shoulder pain. I had a really bad posture (hollow cross) and office work and carrying around two children didn’t make it better. I could not do sitting trot and in general had a terrible hollow cross also when riding.

In order to stabilize my muscles were far too tight. My horse is a ultra-sensitive Trakehner who has some physical issues himself. He totally reacted on every stiff muscle of mine and walked like a giraffe. Some very good riding instructors and DRT1 helped me to get out of this.

We now have our hopes high to participate in a dressage tournament next year and I can do sitting trot forever without any hollow cross. My back and shoulder pain got much better. And finally, 3×20 minutes was possible to do even though having 2 children, a horse and a job – it was fun and helped so I was very disciplined. I am in general more happy with my body now. Thanks a lot, best regards.

Jenny Gordon – Waiotira, New Zealand

I am 66 years old and have been riding most of my life. After a couple of serious riding accidents I felt stuck with my riding progress and thought my riding days may be over. My coach then recommended that I have a go at DRT 1.

Although I am reasonably fit, I have never been one to do exercise programs so I did wonder if I was going to be able to do the program both physically and mentally. I have just completed the full 12 week program and I am ecstatic.

The program is incredibly well designed so that each week builds on the last and you always feel that you can do just that much more next time.

And my riding has really improved. I feel so much more secure and confident and my coach is now really excited about what we can achieve. I am also feeling incredible with so many people commenting on how good I look. I am about to do DRT 1 all over again so that I am ready for DRT 2 next year.

Thanks so much Nicola- you and your program have been life changers for me. I don’t think I will be retiring from riding any time soon!

Max Moras – NSW, Australia

Hi Nicola, You know of me but this is my best friend and partner in crime Bling. He is a 4 year old Heritage Stock Horse that I have just started under saddle. I know the way to give him the best start is to ensure I’m as balanced and as strong as I can be.

I knew I had some areas to work on but DRT has shown me just how much work I have to do on my balance.
The workouts I found to be challenging at times but the change they have made. My awareness and strength when in the saddle are AMAZING!!!

As life is busy I found the program to be amazing and 13 weeks in and constantly keep finding more programs to keep me on track.

Thank you heaps a program designed to help me best the best rider I can be is exactly what I needed and exactly what I got!

Super excited to keep going with the programs in DRT and when the times comes start my adventure with DRT2.

Thank you so much, Max

Nicola Marshall – Wellington, New Zealand

Hi, I am now 63 and can spend all my time riding! I returned to riding at age 60 after only about 5 years of lessons in my teens. One year ago I decided to lease a rescued OTTB, to be able to do more than I could at riding school. We had a wonderful summer but he bucks in the canter and eventually when I had to push him he threw me and I broke my collar bone. The dream of riding everyday was suddenly under threat.

I have a genius coach (truly) and she and my riding friends kept me going. Then I found DRT. I started DRT 1 within a week of being cleared to ride. I was already keen on pilates but I am truly AMAZED by DRT. I kept to the schedule, but couldn’t do the riding homework, leaving the TB and just having lessons again on my coach’s pony. This was where the Facebook group came in, sharing all their DRT stories, life and riding challenges, appearing in their videos to me (a Novice Novice) like absolute pros. Next time.

I am pony shopping currently (closing in on a good one I hope) and since September have been trying horses. My coach has noticed a BIG improvement in my riding since my fall (DRT??) Her pony also helped heaps, but she says my choices have expanded over the past 3 months in terms of what I can now manage. I want a forward pony who can jump, but owners were looking at me sideways and really were afraid for me. Not anymore.

DRT is a brilliant programme for horse riders and anyone who wants to feel amazing. It feels research based and intelligent, completely safe despite the positions achieved, (critical at 63) but also fun, fluid and relaxing. Exercises are dynamic, with aerobic components, full of variety and there are great educational extras, but definitely short enough to easily fit into a week.

Nicola may be a bit of a genius too. Her joy for riding and enthusiasm for life are evident, and she works out with us. Her teaching style is spot on, (ex teacher here) with subtle adjustments built in to suit absolutely any level. There is always a more challenging option, and she makes that irresistible.

The Facebook community is always supportive, and reminds me of why I love equestrian (apart from the horses of course) that even the very best riders strive to learn and get better. So proud to have been a part of it and I hope to keep going with DRT forever.

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