Four-star event rider Coral Keen provides one H&H forum user with some helpful advice on how to introduce bounce fences to a horse
Q: Introducing bounce fences: “It’s time to introduce something new to my seven-year-old’s showjump training. She’s perfect at grids and she loves jumping down them. Recently my trainer has asked me to practise some bounce fences with ‘Dusty’. However bounces for us often end in poles flying around. My instructor asked us to gradually decrease the striding until we have a bounce but Dusty really seems to just not get it. Are there any exercises that could help to get her brain around it? Is there anything anyone else has tried with their horses, successfully, or any ‘mind-tricks’ which will help her out?”
A: My first thought would be to use canter poles on the ground and then raise them up very slowly.
Start with five poles placing them either in a straight line, or on a circle, four yards (3.6 metres) apart.
Canter over them on both reins and once your horse has established a good canter through them, maintaining a steady rhythm, raise alternate ends.
I would have the first, third and fifth poles on the floor, and raise alternate ends of the other two.
Once your horse understands this and is catering over them, again in good rhythm, put the last pole up, and slowly build this until eventually you have all five up.
It may take a couple of sessions, but you are better off doing this really slowly, so that your horse has time to figure out her timing, as from what you’ve said, it’s a timing issue and she doesn’t quite understand what is required.
By keeping them low, and raising them up individually, you will give her time to think about what she is doing with her legs, and she should start to get it.
The key thing here is not to be in any rush. It may take a few days to accomplish this exercise fully, but once you do, the poles should stop flying.