This app literally JUST came out on Tuesday so when I say “first impressions” y’all, I very much mean it. I’ve used it twice so far and spent some time poking around the various content but by no means do I have a really solid grasp on it yet. The app seems to be getting a lot of buzz though and I’ve seen a lot of people hemming and hawing over whether or not to try it, so I figured I’d offer my perspective on it so far for anyone who may be considering it.
For those that don’t know anything about it yet, there’s a good overview of what Ride iQ is and what it has to offer on their website (scroll down). Basically it’s an app-based service that offers guided rides (everything from warmups to jumping sessions to particular dressage movements or full dressage tests) with various top level coaches that you can listen to while you’re riding. It also has some video guidance in there that go along with the rides to show you specific exercises or walk through certain movements, and some general video lessons that you can watch to help supplement. There is already a decent library of over 100 rides, and they say that more will be added weekly. In addition to the rides and video lessons, along with your membership you get access to something called Office Hours where you can ask the coaches questions, plus access to private podcasts with coaches (a sorta Patreon-esque feature – I already listened to the Peter Gray one). Ride iQ is offered as a paid membership for $30/mo or $249 per year. Right now they’re also offering a free 7 day trial period up front – you do have to enter payment info to get it but you can cancel before the trial period is over if you’d like.
Ok, so let’s get to the meat of it. I’ll be the first to say that I was really skeptical and hesitant to sign up. I went to the website and started entering my info no less than 3 times, talking myself out of it every time before I finally pulled the trigger. My brain struggled with accepting the concept of paying for a monthly app service even though when I thought about it in terms of riding education and lessons it’s really a minor drop in the bucket. I mean one lesson these days is what, $75-100? Sometimes more? My biggest hesitation was about the content – would it be super applicable for me? If not for the free trial period I’d probably still be going back and forth about it but I figured ok, worst case scenario I’d get in the app and hate the content or it wouldn’t work or it sucked or whatever and I would just cancel. I signed up, downloaded the app, logged in, and started poking around.
My initial thoughts are that I like the layout. It’s pretty simple – there are tabs at the bottom for Lessons, Visuals, Podcasts, your Library, and your Settings. When you pop into the lessons tab there are now new tabs at the top of the screen that organize all the rides by Flatwork, Jumping, Programs, or Tests.
Once I scoped out the layout the next thing I did was poke around and get an idea of the content. That’s the real crux of it afterall – is there actually anything in here that would be useful to me? And I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the range. In the Flatwork tab it’s divided by Flatwork Warmups and Flatwork Skills. The warmups offer a pretty good variety, everything from ones focusing on getting a horse in front of your leg, to warming up a nervous horse, to flatting in a field, and a lot of stuff in between. The Flatwork Skills section has a lot of variety too, everything from Stage 1 of leg yield with a green horse, to lengthenings, to half pass, to flying changes. On the main flatwork screen they’ve also got stuff categorized by levels green, yellow, or orange (like 1, 2, 3, progressively) if you’d rather look for things that way. As of this writing there are 25 lessons in the Flatwork Warmups section and 23 in the Flatwork Skills section, so there’s a good chunk already in there to start with from the initial release.
The Jumping tab is laid out the same way, with a warmups section and a skills section, although there aren’t quite as many in there yet – 8 in the warmups and 6 in the skills. Still though, I have to say for what’s in there, it too offers a pretty good range, everything from rails on the ground to gymnastics to green horse stuff to coursework.
The Programs tab only has a couple programs so far, one focused on the early education for a 3yo and the other on green horses in general. Which I LOVE of course, having a young horse. The variety of the content is better than I expected, I was worried it would just be a lot of top level stuff or competition-focused but it certainly isn’t, I feel like it covers both ends of the spectrum for both horse and rider and a lot of steps in between. The Tests tab has audio of different dressage tests (as of this writing all of the eventing tests and USDF 1-1 and 2-1 are already in there) so that you can listen to them while you’re riding and run through your test, no reader necessary. I can totally see me not only using those at home to prep for shows, but also playing them to go over my test while I’m braiding or tacking up at the show.
I certainly felt like I had plenty to choose from right out the gate, and picked “Loosening an Older Horse” in Flatwork Warmups as my first session. Partly because Henry always needs suppling work and partly because I only had 30 minutes and it was one of the shorter, simpler sessions that fit well into my time frame. I like that if you click into each ride there’s a synopsis of what it covers, what you need to prepare, the difficulty level, how long it is, etc. It makes it a lot easier to pick something suitable for the day and the horse.
I always ride alone so I just hit play, put my phone in my pocket, and rode off. Some people may prefer or need headphones, your mileage may vary of course, but I’m not that fancy. I could hear it just fine from my pocket.
It started out with Kyle giving a little info about the horse he was on and explaining what the goal of the session was, what he was thinking with his position, and what he wanted to feel from the horse. Then he started to run through exercises at the walk, then trot, then canter, with some transitions and walk breaks thrown in there. Basically he did his ride and talked through what he was doing as he did it, so I could emulate it with my own horse at home. There were reminders about what we were trying to accomplish, what we wanted to feel, what our body should be doing, etc. For me, this was freaking AMAZING. I’m always riding alone, I don’t have eyes on the ground, and sometimes in the flatwork (especially with a horse like Henry who has no competition goals) I can get a little ADD or aimless about it. Having a guided ride that served as a “voice in my ear” so to speak really kept me focused and on task, and gave me more structure. To be quite honest, the app vastly exceeded my expectations. I could see this being tremendously helpful to me, especially once Presto comes home from training and I have to keep him going on my own.
Now, real talk. Would I use this service in place of real-life in-person lessons? No. You obviously still need the eyes on the ground, real-time feedback that you get from an instructor, for sure. Ride iQ isn’t meant to take the place of lessons, it’s meant to help enhance them and expand your general education. If I was at a barn where I had trainer eyes on me everyday and multiple lessons a week, would I be as gung-ho about it? Probably not. But I get very few lessons, the professionals I ride with are literally HOURS away, and it’s always a constant struggle to feel like I’m making real progress and keeping good structure and focus at home. For someone like me I think this app is a ridiculously good value. In the course of one ride I went from really skeptical and meh about it to a huge fan. This is a brilliant concept that so far seems to have been well-executed, and I would encourage anyone who’s even remotely interested to download it and at least play with it for the free 7 day initial trial period. No matter what discipline you do, there’s something in there for you for sure.
I played with it more this morning when I rode and it really just solidified my opinion. I honestly can’t wait to keep running through the different rides and figuring out which ones I like best and which ones help me the most. At this point there’s enough content to keep me occupied for months, and if they do in fact keep adding more every week (I’m told the updates will be every Tuesday), we should be good to go. There is a private facebook group for Ride iQ members where updates will be announced, which is also where they’ll have Office Hours as well as take lesson requests and app improvement suggestions. The team does seem really dedicated to making this as good and a useful as it can possibly be, which is a positive sign right out the gate. Updates will also be sent out to anyone on their mailing list plus posted on their social media accounts (I’m following them on fb, Instagram, and TikTok), so it should be easy to keep track of what’s new. So far the amount of support and availability seems quite good.
I reached out to Ride iQ yesterday with just a few initial questions I had while I was writing this post, and they were very helpful. They also said that if anyone has any questions about the app or how it works, feel free to leave your question in a comment on this post and they’ll respond. I’m a regular paid member, none of this was comped for me, and I’m happy to also offer my own personal opinion on things as well if you want to know more. Really though, if you’re interested I’d encourage you to sign up and utilize the 7 day trial period. See how you feel about it. So far I definitely think it’s a great tool to have available in my toolbox and I look forward to seeing what all they do with it.