Practicing different training exercises is a great way to improve your horses fitness and way of going. There are hundreds of different exercises that you can try with your horse - all focusing on different training points. Red Gorilla have given us some ideas for changing up different training exercises using affordable equipment. The best part of these exercises is how affordable the equipment is! The images below show a diagram of an arena with small circles inside. These small circles represent Gorilla Tubs. You can use any size or colour you want. Get yours here! You can fill your Tubs with a small amount of water or a heavier item so they stay nice and still whilst you're riding, place them around your arena like the diagrams below and you're ready to start some training exercises!
Figure of 8
For this exercise, you only need two tubs but we've shown the diagram with four to show you could ride the exercise on both diagonal lines. If you want to keep it simple, practice steering in a figure of eight around the two tubs. The larger your figure of eight, the easier it is for your horse. If you want to make the exercise more difficult, try riding a smaller figure of eight asking your horse to bend in the direction of travel. The same goes for the pace you're riding at. Riding the exercise at a walk will be easier than riding it in trot. There are endless points to work on with this exercise from beginner riders practicing steering to more advanced riders working on suppleness and bending.
The Circle square
First, place four Gorilla Tubs in a square - the closer together you place the tubs, the higher the difficulty - Tubs placed close together will result in you having to ride tight circles. All you have to do to try this exercise is ride small circles around each of the tubs. If you want a more difficult version of this exercise, check out the diagram below. Aim to ride around the Tub keeping an equal distance away from it for the entire circle. Using the Tub to pin point the centre of your circle can help you ride with accuracy and precision - perfect for dressage practice!
The Four Leaf Clover
For this exercise, organise your tubs in a square in the middle of the arena. Begin at C and follow the arrows round the tubs to ride a four leaf clover. This exercise includes riding straight lines, asking the horse to bend to the left and bend to the right. It can help to improve suppleness and flexibility in your horse as well as balance. Placing the Tubs in this square formation can also help you to ride accurately around them. This, in turn, makes you concentrate on moving your horses body around each turn in order to stay in line with the Tubs.
ZigZag the Tub
Weaving in and out of weaving cones is a great way for children to practice steering. You can also use different coloured Tubs to keep the exercise interesting for children and help them keep track of where to ride to next. This exercise can be made more difficult too. For example, instead of weaving in and out of the Tubs, try leg yielding from left to right or practicing using your legs and position to control the direction of travel. If you're going to try the more difficult version of this exercise, we recommend moving the tubs further apart than shown in this diagram.
The diagram above shows a jump placed approximately at the E marker with four tubs, in a straight line, further down the arena. In this exercise, the Tubs are acting like a guideline to ride a straight approach towards the jump. Start with the tubs a fair distance away from each other for the first couple of tries then gradually bring them closer together causing you to ride straighter and with more accuracy each time.
Remember with colours
For many dressage riders, remembering a dressage test can be challenging. Similarly, for new riders or children, remembering where certain letters or points in the arena are can be difficult. Try using different coloured Tubs to help you remember markers or points in the arena.
More Tub riding exercises to try
Use Tubs for gymkhana style games. You can practice dropping bean bags into them and if you're flexible enough, picking them back out again. If you're a horse-ball enthusiast, practicing throwing bean bags into Tubs from different distances is a great way to refine your skills.
Lots of horse owners can be weary of jumping over different coloured fillers and poles - especially with young or nervous horses. Try using a few coloured Tub based exercises to practice riding around different fillers.
You can write on your Tubs to practice different games or use them as arena markers!
Do you have a creative exercise or another way of using tubs for riding? Friends of #TEAMRED are a group of equestrians who have shared their riding experiences, hints tricks and stories with Red Gorilla. Check them out on the 'friends of #TEAMRED page or if you've got stable management tips send them in or post a photo with the hashtags #RedGorilla or get in touch via the Contact Us page.