Fancy footwork: how to get the most from your horse’s jumping canter

  • Caroline Moore, former five-star eventer and British Eventing national under-18 coach and junior team coach, explains how you can use this exercise to develop footwork in your horse’s canter

    The aims of the exercise are to:

    • Develop energy in the canter
    • Improves horse’s footwork
    • Develop the balance and obedience between two fences
    • Improve suppleness
    • Learn to hold a curving line

    I use two sets of three poles on a curving line for this exercise — square poles and also raised, round poles.

    Using this exercise has a really good effect on a horse’s hind legs in the canter.

    The rider will have to work hard, using their inside leg to help keep the horse in an upright way of going, while making sure the horse stays very symmetrical and straight in his balance.

    As the horse opens himself a little bit over the poles, you have to land and shorten the canter up a little bit again, ready for the next set of poles, so that the horse is always in balance.

    In another exercise to help teach a horse about turning to a new direction in relation to jumping, you will need:

    • Cavaletti or similar
    • 3.2m distance between the two obstacles
    • A minimum of 20m for the change of direction

    Firstly, allow the horse time to work out the exercise and what he will need to do with his feet. The event horse has always got to look and think about his feet and how to use them.

    When turning to the new direction, use the inside leg and rein to support the horse and to show them where they are going, to encourage a change of canter lead.

    Points to be aware of:

    • Be reactive
    • Rider must sight the next fence
    • A loss of rider balance
    • The horse falling onto its shoulder between fences
    • Praise and reward

    More expert training advice from Caroline:

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