Q: I have been competing my horse in unaffiliated classes of up to 85cm and he has regularly been placed, even winning a few times. I am thinking about affiliating him, but I am not sure how to teach him to cope with bigger fences. He happily makes the height I am asking him to jump, so should I start literally raising the fences progressively or is it better to lunge or loose school him over bigger fences first?

SJ trainer John Smart replies: “The biggest difference between unaffiliated and affiliated jumping is the width of the spreads, therefore when you are training, rather than going higher, concentrate on going a little wider. To be make the extra width, horses have to jump higher, anyway.

Lungeing or loose schooling over fences can be beneficial but is notnecessary. I’m sure that if you take your time and progressively widen and raise the fences in a calm but purposeful manner, your first British Novice is simply a matter of inches away!”

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