10 showjumping tips from Hickstead Derby winner Phillip Miller

  • The 2013 Hickstead Derby winner Phillip Miller came to Hickstead in Sussex to give a lesson to Hickstead Derby Community competition winner Jodine Brooks, 25 and her 7-year-old Dutch gelding, Camorasun.

    Here are Phillip’s top 10 tips for success in the ring:

    1. Flatwork is so important. I spend a lot of time schooling, working on the horse’s adjustability and balance. My top horses rarely jump at home.

    2. The horse must accept the leg aids. Even with a fizzy or excitable horse, they must accept some leg pressure — it acts as a support. If you go from no leg aid to too much as you approach take-off, the horse will overreact.

    3. A strong canter rhythm is the key to a good showjumping round.

    4. The canter should be adjustable. Ask the horse to go forward by allowing with the hand, then collect by sitting more upright through the upper body.

    5. If you find you lose impulsion or rhythm on the turns, try going into a showjumping canter and then riding a 12-15m circle, while maintaining the same pace. Work on turning with your leg and seat aids and not your reins.

    6. Try riding down the 3/4 line of the arena and make sure your horse stays straight — straightness is a key component to riding a course.

    7. I use lots of v-poles when training, as it gets the horse to lift up through the shoulder and be neater in front.

    8. If your horse rushes, think of sitting up on the approach until the very last second. If you’re forward in your upper body position, it will encourage them to be quicker.

    9. If you’re coming down to a double or treble, don’t change the way you ride — think of every jump as being the only fence, and just ride to combinations as you would for a standard oxer or upright.

    10. Be consistent with your training. If they rush off after a fence, bring them back to a halt on a straight line. If they’re allowed to pull you around at home, they’ll do it at shows too.

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    Picture courtesy of Honeybunn Photography

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