It can often mean make or break in a showjumping class, but the question is: how do you win a jump-off?
Here’s some helpful pointers from Irish international showjumper, David Simpson, who trained and produced young horses for Shane Breen for seven years, won the Queen’s Cup at Hickstead in 2016 and the Olympia Puissance in 2014.
1. On average a horse’s stride takes half a second, so always make a plan that takes the shortest route. This may sound obvious but sometimes it looks faster to gallop a longer distance, but if this means going two strides wider on the next line, you will be adding a second onto your time.
2. Keep it smooth — smooth is always faster.
3. Know your horse’s weaknesses and strengths, this will help you figure out which part of the course will be better suited for you to go faster.
4. Always start in a good rhythm — there is always half a second to be saved between going through the start and taking off for the first fence.
5. Know your competition. People can surprise you, but if you judge how your competitors normally go in a jump off, it can save you from taking unnecessary risks.
6. Finally, and in my opinion key for your horse and ensuring consistent results, make a plan for the best round your horse can do and execute it. You might not win every time, but it will mean your horse will still be on top form the next day. It is much better to be consistently in the top placings than to ride frantically for the win and spend the next five rounds bringing your horse back jumping nicely.
Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these showjumping competitions available to enter where you can go for that winning jump-off round…
Date: 28 December
Venue: Cobham Manor Equestrian Centre, Maidstone
Details: “This event features a range of classes from 60cm-1m with a range of clear round heights on offer too.”
Date: 4 January
Venue: Keysoe, Bedford
Details: “This affiliated show has classes from 90cm up to a 1.30m open.”
Date: 5 January
Venue: Alnwick Ford Equestrian, Morpeth
Details: “This unaffiliated show has classes from 50cm to 1.20m.”
Date: 11 January
Venue: Inchcoonans Competition & Livery Yard, Errol
Details: “This show features a clear round at 35cm plus classes ranging between 45cm and 1.10m with a range some Trailblazers qualifiers.”
Date: 11-12 January
Venue: Onley Grounds Equestrian Complex, Rugby
Details: “This event offers classes ranging from 85cm up to 1.30m.”
Date: 11 January
Venue: Moulton College Equestrian Centre, Northampton
Details: “This show fhas classes ranging from 50cm up to 90cm.”
Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings