The Magazine June 2017

The flatwork exercise you need to try

Posted 12th October 2017

Dressage rider and judge Sandy Phillips shows you how to get the best out of your horse using her ‘secret weapon’ exercise


Dressage isn’t a sport that’s known for its quick fixes. It adheres to a training scale, with each progression another building block that will facilitate the next lesson. If you’ve done your homework and developed the foundation correctly, however, you may occasionally stumble upon an exercise that helps you put the pieces of the puzzle together and get the best work out of your horse. Sandy shows you one such exercise, which is easy to set up and simple to understand, but deceptively tricky to execute well. But if you take the time to master it, it will encourage suppleness and engagement, increase control, and set your horse up for lengthening and lateral movements.

The exercise

How to set it up

Place a pole on the ground on the centre line, then another forming a corner back to the long side. This will create a 10 metre square with a way out by A or C on the short side and a way out along the track on the long side.

Sandy Phillips Square

How to ride it

Start in walk in the square. Halt before a corner, then walk through it, riding as deep as possible into it and doing an angled turn. Don’t allow your horse to round off the turn. Repeat this all the way around the square. Then trot along the side of the square, bringing your horse back to walk before the corner, walk through the corner, and then trot out of it. Sound simple? It’ll take a month of practise to be able to do it well.

Find out what this exercise does, Sandy’s problem-solving techniques and how to develop it even further in the full feature in December Horse&Rider, out now.

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