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 four-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: 22 January
Venue:Beaver Hall, Leek
Details: “This clinic is with Maddy Moffett, who has competed at advanced level eventing and completed Bramham in 2008. She has trained with William Fox-Pitt, Lucinda Green and Karen Dixon. These showjumping clinics cater for all levels from nervous horses/riders to the more experienced combinations wanting to work on their techniques. Maddy teaches all levels from young children, nervous/novice riders to three-day eventers.”
Progressive and performance jumping clinic
Date: 23 January
Venue: Darknoll Farm, Blandford Forum
Details: “This clinic is with top eventer Jo Rimmer. The progressive clinic is aimed at the less-established combinations who wish to develop ring-craft and confidence around inviting courses in preparation for competition. Suitable for green/young horses or novice or apprehensive riders. Jump heights will be a maximum of 80cm. The performance clinic is designed to improve your performance in the showjumping ring with Jo’s expert guidance through jumping exercises to jumping courses. These clinics will run on a Wednesday evening fortnightly through the winter and are aimed at those confidently jumping a minimum of 85cm up to 100cm+. The start time can vary but is usually from 5.30 pm.”
Date: 25 January
Venue: Ford Farm Stables, Brockenhurst
Details: “This clinic is with Lizzie Hawkins. It is an evening clinic in the indoor arena at Ford Farm Stables. Polework or jumping sessions are available, with sessions starting at 6.30pm.”
Nick Turner clinic
Date: 25 January
Venue: Chelwood Equestrian, Sussex
Details: “Nick Turner is a world-renowned eventing coach and former four-star rider. This showjumping clinic offers heights ranging between 70cm and 1m+ with group and individual lessons available.”
Date: 26 January
Venue: Greenfields of Avondale, Strathaven
Details: “This clinic with Yvonne Macfarlane offers options of either flatwork or showjumping in either solo or shared sessions.”
Bill Levett clinic
Date: 26 January
Venue: Tumpy Green Equestrian Centre, Cam
Details: “Bill Levett is a top event rider, who has represented his country at some of the world’s biggest competitions. This clinic will suit all levels of horse and rider — groups of similar ability will be put together. There are flatwork, jumping and simulated cross-country options, with a variety of heights available, plus the option of private sessions too.”
Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings