Badminton winner Jonelle Price explains why she uses this grid exercise to work on her horses’ straightness and agility.

“I like this particular grid exercise because it works on a lot of important fundamentals — it requires the horse to be supple, straight, agile and obedient,” explains Jonelle. “It also incorporates lead changes in such places that the horse can only perform them well through being supple and remaining on the correct line.

“The fences don’t need to be big and it is an exercise that you can do on your own without too much assistance. Plus it’s easy to judge for yourself how well you are executing the exercise as the distances should come up easily if you are on the correct line.”

The exercise

  1. Set up the fences as shown in the diagram, starting with a bounce (approachable from both the left and right) on a curving line, which can be anything from five strides plus, to an oxer on one side and a vertical on the other. Then a further vertical in the centre on a circular line between the oxer and vertical.
  2. The dotted lines indicate circles that I would use to start with between each fence. The circles help to close the horse up and get them on their hocks before the next fence.
  3. Once they are performing that well, you can then do the grid without the circles.
  4. The grid can be ridden on both reins in both directions, i.e. from the bounce to the oxer, then to the vertical and back through the vertical to the bounce. Or you can start on the other side and come back through the oxer to the bounce.

Tips and pitfalls

A common mistake would be that the rider tries to move to the new lead and in doing so sacrifices the true line and therefore makes the distance shorter or longer.

Inexperienced or weak horses may struggle to stay on the compressed (shorter) stride, which is where the circles are helpful as it gives them more time to prepare between fences.

It might be that the circles are required with a younger horse for several sessions before being able to execute the exercise without them.

 

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