The December issue of Horse-Sport has a series of indoor exercises with four poles or cavaletti developed by Belinda Lloyd-McMahon of Lloyd Equestrian (AUS). Here is the description of one that appealed to me.
“The poles can be placed end-to-end at right angles to each other (just make sure you have enough room for the rollback from the arena wall). Plan your rollback before getting to each pole/cavaletti; create the new bend and have your legs in the correct position to ask for the change of lead over the pole. Remember to use your eyes to rollback on a straight line perpendicular to the next pole. Maintain a quite , steady rhythm; start with larger rollback circles and then decrease the size of the rollbacks as you become more organized. Keep them symmetrical.”
I am not back to riding yet following surgery so my coach Belinda Trussell and her assistant Lynsey Rowan are riding Biasini. On the days Lynsey rides I like to have her do something that is not “dressage” so she will do some pole work or take him hacking in the forest. I thought the switchback exercise would be a good one for them to do.
The only thing I wanted different from the exercises in Horse Sport was that I did not want Lynsey to do the flying change over the pole. She agreed with me that this might not be the best idea as Biasini is an advanced level dressage horse and we want his changes to take place on clear aids and only on those aids as he has to do lines of multiple changes, in numbered strides, in the dressage tests he does in competition. So Lynsey opted to put in the change after crossing over the pole.
They practiced the exercise once and Lynsey, who is a very accomplished rider with a background in eventing admitted: “This is hard.” But they did it a second time and they aced it! Here is a video.