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.
It does what it says on the tin…
It might seem a little strange that I am writing this testimonial at a stage when, I confess, I am still doing phase two of a three phase programme, but it says a lot for the programme that I can, even at this stage, confirm that it does what it says it will.
I signed up for DRT 1 at the start of this year (2017). At the time my riding had, over the previous 6 months, gradually changed from riding one advanced horse and one working towards advanced five to six days a week, to having one green horse and riding three to four times a week if I was lucky (weather and work commitments). I realised that I was not riding so well, I was losing strength and co-ordination and I really needed to do something about it. Going to the gym or joining an exercise class were fine options in theory, but the reality was that juggling a fairly demanding job, the vagaries of the Irish winter weather and minding 5 horses left little time to get to the gym/class and way too many excuses to skip it (just this once….).
I signed up to DRT 1, downloaded my first video and started my journey. A few weeks later my horse sustained an injury that meant no riding for 10 weeks! This is the longest period I have gone without riding in the last 15 years. Normally if I miss one week of riding I feel weaker and less co-ordinated, now I was facing returning to riding my sharp, spooky, green horse after ten weeks….
But I had DRT. Even though, due to work travel and some health issues of my own, I had not managed to follow the programme exactly, I felt stronger, more supple and better co-ordinated than I had felt in a very long time. I was amazed at how confident I felt that first time I sat up on my horse again, and my expectations were fulfilled – I was riding better than I had before the enforced break.
So why did DRT work for me? There are a few reasons:
Firstly, the programme really targets what I need as a dressage rider – strength, suppleness and co-ordination, in all the right places;
Secondly, the structure of the programme, with three 20 minute workouts a week and homework, works perfectly with my lifestyle. I might miss a session, or even a week, due to work or life getting in the way, but I have all the workouts on my Kindle and I can take up where I left off, or even go back a week if I feel the need. I love the way Nicola offers several different levels of difficulty in most exercises, so if I have to repeat a week it’s not boring – I’ll try the harder option second time around. Having this structure has really helped me to stick with the programme, even if my pace is slower than I might like.
Thirdly, the homework – it’s transformed my life! I have known about, and tried to fix for years my crookedness as a rider and my tight hip muscles and ITB, but somehow I never seemed to get there. The homework has finally given me tools that really work. And the tip about using stretching in the yard – brilliant! I always felt that I could stretch without having done a full workout first, but now every free moment I have in the yard, I’ll do a quick stretch.
Fourthly – 20 minute work-outs – pure genius! At the end of a long day it takes more willpower than I have to face into an hour-long workout. But 20 minutes, hey, that’s not so bad. It’s so much easier to face that and to find a time slot to fit it into.
I’d recommend this programme to anyone who wants to ride better and feel better.
Hi Nicola, I have just completed my first 12 weeks and have signed up for DRT2. Really enjoyed the program, found it challenging and you inspiring. Have raved on about it to my friends and one has now signed up for her first DRT.
I am 72 and feeling more fit, supple and strong than I have for some time. Regards, Trish.
I have struggled for many years in Dressage, getting frustrated with how much I interfered and hindered my horses.
Then this program came along and the improvements started happening at an unbelievable pace. My body stability, balance, core strength, symmetry, and flexibility improved, which allowed me to become much more independent in the saddle, improving my feel, making my aids lighter and clearer, allowing me to relax more, which made riding so much more harmonious and fun for both me and my horses.
It was a big missing piece of my puzzle. A must for any Dressage rider! I mean every word. Thank you for this transformation!
Hi Nicola, Thanks for the fabulous 12 week programme. It is nice to be able to do this at home and not to also have to allow travel time or do it at a particular time. The flexibility of that makes it easier to make time to fit it in as well as the fact that it is only 20 minutes. That helped when the programme got harder – it was only 20 minutes of pain!
I have never done Yoga before and my flexibility has never been great so this is a real challenge especially at 51. I am not riding enough to know if it has improved my riding – however I am more aware of my body position when sitting at my desk and in my car as well as when I am on the horse. Thanks for putting this programme together.
For me, the program was helpful because it increased my awareness while I was riding and brought so many small (important ) points to my attention. Here is a photo of Marcurio and me after doing a dressage test!
I absolutely believe your program has helped my riding.
As an older rider carrying many old injuries I have always been very tight in my hips and hamstrings. I now feel like I have increased flexibility especially when doing lateral work.
I love the yoga stretches especially and also love that I can do the workouts whenever I can fit them in to my busy schedule (sometimes midnight, my husband thinks I’m crazy). Thanks so much. Photo attached of my gorgeous 5yo mare, Donnerstar CDS (Twinkle).
I have loved doing the program. It was so easy to roll out of bed, turn on the laptop and do my exercise. I think it has given me more control over my body when I am riding, and has also toned me up. I feel great, and for the first time in ages, I don’t wake up feeling stiff. I will definitely sign up to the next program.
Last year in late May I had an accident out hacking, where my leg and the saddle flap caught on a gate post, my horse panicked and rushed through and I came off, suffering 3 pelvic fractures and torn muscles. I was starting to ride again by late summer/early autumn but despite physio, my muscles were tight and often painful, my core strength non-existent and my riding fitness was poor.
I really struggled with the first few weeks of DRT, but by about week 6 I could ride through a 45 minute lesson with my trainer without feeling exhausted or needing lots of walk breaks and he commented on how much better I was riding. This meant we could take things up a level and start riding the more advanced movements, which is great!
Attached photo is of me with Neon, my now 20 year old PRE (Andalusian) gelding.
Hi Nicola, Thank you for the encouragement and personal follow up you provided. I loved being able to fit in exercises at home in my own time, without a long drive to and from gym. My favourite parts were the yoga and on horse homework.
Dressage Rider Training has kept me focused over the 12 week programme as every stage has made sense. Building up my core and rider strength and increasing my mobility and suppleness, have been greatly rewarded with more enjoyable rides and a happier horse!
Nicola encourages and motivates in exactly the right amounts and manages to keep the most strenuous workouts fun.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the programme to anyone with limited time and a desire to improve their riding.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted immensely from the Dressage Rider Training programme. My core strength and flexibility have both improved significantly and this has translated into greater stability and effectiveness in the saddle.
The downloadable 20-minute exercise sessions can manageably be fitted into a busy schedule and done anywhere (in your lounge, at the stable yard, in your hotel if you’re away from home…) The inclusion of both strength and mobility exercises provides variety, and Nicola ensures that their relevance to riding is clear.
The work on the Swiss ball is great fun, and the (apparently unscheduled) guest appearances of Nicola’s horse and dog in some of the videos are a most amusing added bonus!
I’d highly recommend the programme to all riders, regardless of their preferred discipline and level of experience.
Hello! I’d have to say the number one thing I’ve taken away from the program is… confidence!
I’ve been able to keep up, which tells me I am fitter than I think I am… I kept to the progam, which tells me I am more determined than I think I am…
Want proof? I don’t have a horse of my own, but tend to like to ride the same school horses again and again since I can better predict their ways. Since starting DRT, I have started on four new and different horses, the ones I always thought were ‘above my level.’ And I accepted these horse assignments without freaking out. Ha!
Greeting Nicola from Virginia!
I have appreciated your Dressage Rider Training program immensely! You have helped me increase my body awareness in and out of the saddle, and the exercises have helped me become stronger and improve my position in the saddle! Although, I have found going through the program just once wasn’t enough for me that I improved greatly the second time and now I hope to be able to balance on the ball with my knees like you do in my third time.
You and your wonderful Lucy – dog and horse are a delight! You have inspired me to be strong like you by your gentleness, kindness and encouraging words! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time, efforts and help in achieving a very convenient and fun program just for riders!
Sincerely, Your horse friend in Virginia.
I thoroughly enjoyed your DRT program! Halfway through I started dropping more weight and really toning my body to another dress size smaller.
Although I wasn’t able to ride my horse during the 2nd 2 months of the program, I did keep up with all the ‘non-ridden’ workouts. When I was finally able to ride, it was like riding at a whole different level. I was suddenly able to get my body to perform the way I was trying so hard to make it perform prior to the start of this program.
I’m very pleased with the awesome improvements I can feel everytime I get on my horse, and am very much looking forward to a [promised] Phase II. Thank you Nicola!
I must admit I thought long and hard before joining this program. There are so many out there that promise miraculous results in a ridiculously short space of time…..but, guess what…..this one ACTUALLY DELIVERS. If you are willing to commit to the workouts (20 minutes just 3 times a week) and put in the practise with your horse, I can guarantee you will see a dramatic change in your riding ability.
I am just an ordinary person getting back into riding after a couple of horse-less decades. I am lucky enough to now own two horses, again fairly ordinary, but priceless to me. I don’t even compete! I knew I was stuck at a certain level of competence and had a lot of problems getting my Irish Sport Horse ‘Stan’ to go forward from my leg. I also realised I needed to work on getting myself physically fitter and stronger (being on the wrong side of 50!) and so I signed up for the DRT program.
The point I am making here is that this program is not just for competition riders, but also for anyone at any level who seriously wants to improve their riding ability. You will learn how to become more balanced and flexible as your seat becomes deeper which in turn will help you feel safer and more confident in the saddle.
I was surprised to discover I had very little core strength. I was also tight through my hips, had ceased up hamstrings and was very hollow backed. Then I discovered ‘neutral spine’ and everything I had ever learnt about riding went out the window. When I was young I was never taught about ‘biomechanics’. You either had natural ability or you didn’t. Now I am convinced that anyone can reach that higher level if they develop the necessary core strength, balance and stability.
There is so much more I could say – suffice to say that every credit should go to Nicola Smith for the way she has put this ingenious program together, geared specifically for the horse rider. Within each workout there are always different options to choose from so you can start at a level that is safe for you without causing unnecessary strain and risking injury. As the weeks progress and you find yourself getting stronger and more flexible, you can always repeat the exercises with the harder options. Then there are ‘fun’ things like ‘ 30 days without stirrups’ (I actually enjoy this now!) and, of course, the wretched Swiss ball (okay, I still can’t actually sit up on the thing, but I’m working on it!) You’ll be able to do so much more than you ever imagined.
And not only that – as you become fitter and more centred – everyday tasks become easier as you use your newly developed core muscles and not your back! You will also lose weight and become more toned and balanced with a better posture.
And, if all of this isn’t enough, the single most important difference you will see is how your horse responds to the ‘new’ you. My beloved Stan is no longer slow and sluggish. He is sharp and round and so much more ‘through’ from the minute I get on him. No more bouncing around on a hollow backed horse! It’s like we are finally talking the same language and who knows….we might actually do some dressage next year!
So if your New Year’s resolution is to improve your riding ability I would say don’t spend your money on expensive gym memberships or workout programs that aren’t geared towards horse riders. Sign up to the Dressage Rider Training Program NOW and let Nicola show you just how awesome you can become. I promise you won’t regret it and your horse will be the first to thank you. This has honestly been the best investment I have ever made, not only for my own health, but also for my horses’ happiness and well-being.
Thank you so much, Nicola, for this superb program of exercises that I will carry on with for the rest of my life. Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in Phase 2, but I certainly want to be a part of it!!!!
Pam : -)
A fellow dressage rider friend suggested I consider this program when I asked how I might improve my fitness out of the saddle. Despite regular riding of two horses both moving into the FEI levels, I knew I had to do more and I did not have the additional time to go to a gym or regular fitness classes.
This program turned out to be perfect not only because I could fit it in, but because it made so much sense to me. I could link every exercise back to being in the saddle and I have seen tremendous improvement on many levels but particularly with my balance and ability to recover my balance while riding.
I highly recommend riders to try the program and to stick with it if you want to make a significant positive impact on your riding. Like everything in life, if you put in the effort, you will get the results.
I’d been searching for the right type of exercise program for a long time with the aim of improving my riding.
Your program gave me exactly what I was after. I now feel that my body is more balanced and stronger than ever before. I look forward to Part 2.
This I can say atm, I have a pilates reformer and I was curious to know if your exercises would give me the same type of core strengthening. Learning pilates, using the equipment, is not easy and costs a lot of money. Not accessible to most riders.
Nicola, your program delivers the core strength results. You are an inspiring, realistic and grounded instructor. I particularly like: how you empower your students, working out at home, the intense 20 minute time frame – awesome, it’s not 50 minutes… the homework, the daily stretches!
When a rider starts understanding their core, then how to activate it (the hardest part), so much about riding (and life) all comes together. When we are consistently in our core, using it to walk, ride etc, we are grounded within ourselves, we make better life decisions.
I really like how you teach yoga, no ‘“guru” stuff, but with mindfulness :). I will be joining your online gym when my 6 months membership needs renewal.
The DRT program is phenomenal! It is challenging, but not overwhelming. I’m stronger, more flexible and a better rider as a result of the program. (And I’m not a spring chicken!).
I have a deeper more stable seat and much clearer communication through my aides. Where my horse used to start hollow, he is now willing to step up under my seat from the get go. I’m no longer blocking him with my back.
I would (and have) recommend this program to anyone equestrian or not who wants to improve strength and flexibility. And it’s fun! Except maybe balancing on that pesky ball!???? Thanks so much for making this program available to us!
My name is Linda Brown, I am a qualified RWYM Rider Biomechanics Coach,NZEF registered Coach and Dressage Rider.
I want to thank Nicola for developing DRT (Dressage Rider Training). I have been using DRT since its inception and have found it easy to use and huge benefit to my riding fitness. Site support is instant and unlike other fitness programs, DRT is designed for riders and their unique fitness requirements. It is great to be able to fit in a 20 minute session as and where I like and to be able to repeat it when necessary.
You don’t have to be a Grand Prix Dressage rider to get the max out of this product. DRT is for anybody that rides Dressage whether they are a beginner to dressage, a happy hacker, a top dressage rider or just want to feel safe and in control.
I am sure our horses will thank you for this excellent product Nicola, and I would like to recommend this program to anybody who has little time to spend on their own fitness but wants to be the best they can be for the sake of their horses and their own riding ability.
I just wanted to let you know how thrilled I have been with your Dressage Riders Training course!
I signed up not quite knowing what to expect – and wondering if I could anticipate real results from an online course. I can now report that I have noticed a meaningful difference in my overall strength, flexibility and balance.
This is all the more important to me as work commitments this past quarter have meant limited opportunity to ride – being able to put in effort at times that suit me has meant I feel I am continuing to work at improving my riding despite the challenges of daily living.
For me, the results will not be short lived as I have also developed a far deeper appreciation of what physically needs to happen to maintain a strong yet flexible position – and the impact poor posture, old injuries and a degree of laziness in setting new challenges for myself have had on my balance and endurance (both on and off a horse!) As a middle aged person looking to maintain good health, these learnings alone are invaluable.
I highly recommend your Dressage Rider Training – I will definitely be signing up for your next course. I have attached a picture of Gambit and me from last weekend – I really hope he appreciates my efforts on that Swiss ball!
This program is PERFECT and is just what I was looking for.
While I’ve done weights and they helped me feel stronger as a person, and while I’ve done cardio which helped with endurance in riding, this program is the only exercise regimen that has effectively addressed the muscles necessary to advance my riding.
Doing this program — even only the first 5 weeks of it — helped me in ways that I thought would take years to develop (e.g., using my seat more effectively such as in asking for canter transitions, creating an independent seat, independence with using legs and abs without tensing other areas incorrectly).
I have to work hard to maintain muscle so I anticipate using these workouts over and over again over time to maintain these muscles after I rebuild and continue to build them.
Thank you so so so much for providing answers I never thought I’d find in my riding, or that I thought would take way way longer to develop. It makes it so much more fun to feel more correct and confident more quickly in what I’m doing and to be able to communicate to my horse more effectively! He tries so hard for me, now I can feel better about what I’m doing for him!
The DRT program has helped me and my horse Stormy so much. I lost 2 dress sizes over the three months. And most importantly, I have become a much better rider and Stormy and I have become a team.
Prior to the program, I had always been afraid to canter. Further my stamina was not nearly good enough and I was not pushing Stormy enough. Now we are cantering, and I am in better shape than my horse!
The two of us are working on increasing her stamina for cantering now and are looking forward to riding in some shows this summer.
It’s very hard to take a selfie when your best friend has an extremely large head! This is Gabe, my 7 yo ottb. We have been together for 3 1/2 years. Never would have seen myself on a young TB but he is the perfect gentleman.
Riding dressage at 56 yo has it’s challenges, especially on a young horse and an inexperienced rider. DRT was just what I needed to improve my athletic abilities, particularly core and balance. I looked forward to my workouts daily.
I accomplished things I never thought I could be capable of: Hindu squat, balancing on Swiss ball, and 30 days of stirrup less riding.
The workout has options for all levels and Nicola is positive, encouraging, and genuine in her efforts to help you reach your full riding potential.
Can’t wait for # 2! Thank you so much!
I loved your program and I would sign up for a second round!
The program was fabulous. For someone coming back from an injury, the program definitely helped me regain not only my confidence on my horse but also the muscles and skills necessary to do so. Both of my trainers have commented on how much better I am in the saddle than I was before the program.