With immaculate artificial surfaces allowing showjumpers year-round competitions, whatever the British weather throws at us, are riders – and horses – losing the skills and fitness needed to compete on grass?
Up the tempo
“You usually have more space in a grass arena with longer stretches between fences, so it’s important to up your tempo to avoid time-faults,” says Tim Stockdale.
Consider the gradients
“When you’re jumping downhill, it’s easy for the horse to fall on to his forehand and gain ground,” says Guy Williams. “Sit up and ensure you stay in good balance. Jumping uphill requires extra effort. You need more oomph to make sure the horse clears the back rail of an oxer.”
Ride according to the conditions
“Negotiating soft ground requires more energy, so it’s important to ride the horse in a stronger rhythm to ensure he has the impulsion to get his feet out of the ground,” says Guy.
A horse can quickly lose confidence if he slips. “When you walk the course don’t just learn your route, but assess the state of the ground and the studs you will need,” advises Guy.
Play to your horse’s strengths
“Because there is more room on grass, there are usually more options when it comes to finding the best line,” says Tim. “Study the course and play to your horse’s strengths – you can decide whether to keep up a gallop throughout or stay tighter to the fences.”
For the full feature on jumping on grass plus an exlusive interview with Rolf-G ¶ran Bengtsson and all the latest riding boots on the market see the showjumping special (29 March) out now
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