Fab Warm-Up Exercise: Relaxing into the Serpentine

So today’s confession is that I have the body of someone twice my age. So an accident several years ago kind of instantly aged my body but that’s not really my complaint it’s more so that it takes me a long time to warm up in the saddle. And to be honest being that several years ago my complaint was that I couldn’t be in the saddle, life’s not so bad! The challenge these days is that it is frigidly cold and it’s taking longer for me to loosen up. So when Susanne introduced a new exercise to get me using my outside rein better and to work on suppling Rheirattack, it had the surprising effect of also suppling the rider (aka me).

I introduce to you ‘the serpentine’. Now this is clearly nothing new to the dressage world, however what really worked was that we gradually went from a 3 loop serpentine to a 6 loop serpentine. Yes you read correctly SIX! So Susanne will quickly point out that I can’t count… especially when serpentining… so while the idea was to start off with 3 loops and make our way to 6 loops I can’t truthfully say how many loops I did inbetween. But the progression was made… somehow. Susanne explained the 6 loop serpentine as “thinking of doing 10 meter circles”. Here is why this exercise is so awesome:

  • You can’t cheat with your inside hand, because if you do you will swing wide and won’t be able to do 6 loops.
  • If you’re stiffer on one side, your stiff side constantly gets a break as you loop around.
  • The constant change in direction helps you supple your horse.
  • It helps develop the feel for proper bend and balance of your horse’s body

Here is an image of the traditional 3 loop serpentine:

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

Here is an image of the 5 loop serpentine:


Susanne Dutt-Roth is an international dressage trainer based out of Rideauwood Farm outside of Ottawa, Canada. She has graciously offered to teach me on her Grand Prix Canadian Sport Horse stallion Rheirattack. For more information please visit RideauwoodFarm.com.


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