Here’s some great advice on how you can still practice some great jumping exercises, even if you don’t have access to lots of facilities, from five-star event rider Coral Keen
1. Serpentine exercise
This exercise is great for suppleness, straightness and to practice correctly bringing a horse’s shoulders around the turn. Set the four fences up down the centre line of the school and you can then jump it in both directions, making sure you have a square turn. This exercise highlights if a horse is not even on both reins and it is a good way of checking that you are landing on the correct lead.
2. Turnback exercise
The turnback exercise is a great one for making sure the horse is listening and turning in a soft and supple way. It will highlight if your horse is falling out through the shoulders and checks that you have control on the landing. It is quite a difficult exercise, so for the less experienced horse and rider, start with poles and then progress from there when you are ready. If you want to make the exercise more challenging, you can make the roll backs even tighter.
3. Bending line exercise
This exercise really makes you plan ahead and works on bending lines. Again, you can start with poles on the floor before raising to a fence. The overall idea is to encourage you as a rider to land and look where you are going, not letting you horse fall in or out on the bending line, just holding it.
4. Clock exercise
Set your poles out on at least a 20m circle radius. At the start, focus on keeping the same rhythm over each of the four elements, making sure you have balance and control and that you can bring the horses outside shoulder around, so you are going over the middle of the fence. Once you have achieved this, you can progress to playing around with the adjustability, putting a different number of strides in between the obstacles. Jump and count your strides between the fences, and you should be doing the same amount of strides between each fence (if built evenly). You can then progress to adding a stride between them and even building up to two extra strides. Then you can go to the opposite, crank it up and open the horse out in the frame and do less strides. This is quite an intense exercise for horses, so I would recommend giving them lots of breaks. It is also a fairly difficult exercise, so don’t expect to master it on your first attempt!
5. Barrel Exercise
Version one — if you have a barrel or old drum, place this in the middle, either lying flat or stood up, depending on the height you want to jump. Then place the four wings out from it (you could use blocks if you don’t have a barrel). You are then riding straight over the obstacle on the take off and the landing and you are then riding a 10m circle in between the fences and then straight again and then another 10m circle. It really gets the horse supple and adjustable and listening to you when you are landing. It is really important to make sure you are keeping the horse straight before circling.
Version two — in addition to the above, you can also add in jumping across the middle of exercise over the barrel, you can go from any direction and the poles frame the barrel — so it is a good set up for practising skinny questions.
Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these jumping clinics you can sign up to, to up your game even more…
Date: 18-19 March
Venue: High Plains Equestrian Centre, Riding Mill
Details: “These fun sessions are extremely popular and consist of a one hour, shared group session, including progressive exercises to help make you and your horse more co-ordinated and improve your horse’s core strength and agility. Ideal for all levels of horse and rider as exercises can be modified. Fun guaranteed.”
Showjumping practice evening
Date: 20 March
Venue: Reaseheath College, Nantwich
Details: “Showjumping practice is a fantastic opportunity to prepare your horse for the weekend of competing ahead. For just £12 you are provided with the indoor arena, a full course of showjumps, plus a helper to pick up poles and raise the jumps as required. Each slot will be 15 minutes long and you can add an additional horse for an extra cost or just keep it as a 1:1. You are welcome to bring a trainer or just have a play around a course of jumps without the added pressure of a competition. Included is a 10 minute warm-up in our outdoor arena prior to your slot.”
Jumping a course clinic
Date: 20 March
Venue: Priory Court Farm, Polegate
Details: “This clinic will help you to ride a showjumping course and focus on the control and approach to a variety of fences. This is great practice for those wishing to compete or attend clear rounds without pressure.”
Date: 23 March
Venue: Newbold Verdon Competition Centre, Leicester
Details: “Catering for all capabilities and open to all, these exercises are general strengthening exercises to help build your horses’ core, encourage lateral suppleness, improve rhythm and encourage lightness of the forehand among many things.”
Date: 12 April
Venue: Hickstead Showground, Haywards Heath
Details: “Callum Banfield has an enthusiastic and theoretical teaching approach designed to set strong foundations, build a successful system and boost confidence through safe and positive riding. Following training and working closely with many of the best riders in the world, while adding fresh ideas, a strong system of training has been developed by aiming to keep in balance and allow the horse freedom of movement ensuring both riders and horses are educated together to prepare you both for competition, renowned for explaining why and how to implement techniques to benefit your riding.”
Date: 17 April
Venue: Urchinwood Manor Riding and Event Centre, Bristol
Details: “This clinic is with Andrew Lovell. Heights will range between 2’ and 3’ and riders will be in groups of four/five others of the same ability.”
Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings
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