I love riding 'ice creams'. They add an interesting new way to change the rein, and thus you can ride them in a continuing pattern in a variety of ways - I'll talk about one way in this blog - which has so many benefits for both pony and rider. On my tense, stressy horse, I like the constant repetition as an aid to settling the horse down. For riders, I like how you are focusing on both bend (the half circle) and straightness (the incline) in one movement - this is also really good for your pony's suppleness. I also like any exercise for young riders that gets them moving around the school and not just stuck on the track!
Using blocks and poles is a fantastic way to train some of the movements you will come across in Demi Dressage tests, and the Summer Ice Creams is no exception. You can adjust how many cones/blocks and poles you use depending on your rider - just remember to remove all these training props from your arena before filming your June competition entry!
It can be hard for young riders to understand a new movement/shape, and the technical term for 'ice creams' isn't exactly child-friendly.... 'Today we're going to ride a demi-volte and incline back to the track...' 🤨 Doesn't exactly work for them, does it?
How much simpler (and more fun!) does it sound when you break it down to 'a scoop of ice cream' (the half circle) 'and a cone' (the incline)?
If you've never ridden ice creams before, have a look at last year's Ice Cream #trainingtip for a full explanation of the diagram below... you can find that blog post here: https://www.demidressage.co.uk/post/trainingtip-summer-ice-creams
In MiniD's lesson today, she rode a pattern using both sides of the school to demonstrate how you can use the blocks and poles as a training aid on one side of the school, and then no poles on the other, so that the rider can put the shape into practise without any 'props' (remembering that your test must be filmed without any cones or poles to mark the shapes!) You can see a video of this exercise here - she added the final centre line and halt/salute herself, showing how it is easy to build up an exercise to include other elements of a test to practise!
Although MiniD just rode one 'ice cream' on each rein in this video, book-ended by two centre lines as if she were riding her own little dressage test, you can ride the two ice creams over and over, knowing that you will be working your pony evenly on both reins with the constant changes of direction. Which side does your pony find easiest?
As we had a second rider with us today, we turned this pattern into a mini drill ride - a bit of on the spot choreography which I have to say worked brilliantly! The girls rode one behind the other down the centre line, and then Maisie split off to the left, while Tangle split off to the right. They had to be careful to time their arrival again at A to end up one behind the other as they went through the blue cones at D, then Maisie took the left ice cream and Tangle took the right. They crossed over at C - being careful not to crash! Who knows which side you should pass another pony on when riding together in an arena? - and then keeping an eye on each other they rode a half circle at E and B to join together either side of the centre line for a beautifully timed halt and salute!