7 February 2002
Expert advice from Di Lampard on avoiding common mistakes in the show jumping arena
Walk the course either on your own or just with a trainer. You may see top riders appearing to have a chat or wandering round, but their experience is such that they are taking everything in and noticing problems straight away.
If you walk an outdoor course and the going is hard, think very carefully about whether you should jump atall. You may lose an entry fee, but no horse enjoys hard going and problems often come later. It’s stupid to risk a fortune in vet’s bills for the sake of one round.
Some horses enjoy muddy going, but careful ones can lose confidence. It would be foolish to jump a careful horse in muddy going, if it causes him to lose confidence. He may not be physically damaged, but it can cause him mental harm.
After walking the course, riders often have the best intentions, but once they’rein the ring things go out the window. Concentration is the key and must be maintained throughout.
No round is finished until you’ve gone through the finish. Riders often collapse when they land from then final fence and a few miss the beams at the finish altogether.
When you finish a round, come down through the transitions and give your horse a pat before leaving the ring on a loose rein. Every round you jump should be a nice experience for the horse, particularly a youngster.
If the class isn’t a drawn order, try to watch some of the early riders to see how they cope with problems.
Don’t be ashamed of turning a circle or even retiring if things go wrong. Horses have long memories and their confidencecan easily be knocked if you carry on and have a disaster.
Read more expert advice from Di Lampard on walking a show jumping course in this week’s Horse & Hound (7 February).
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