Only have access to four wings and poles? Here’s 5 great jumping exercises so you don’t miss out…

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…

Polework clinic

Date: 26 October
Venue: Cobham Manor Equestrian Centre, Maidstone
Details: “Bored with schooling around an oblong arena? Want to try something a little different? This clinic keeps things fun for your horse while also training some key skills.”
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Assisted gridwork

Date: 27 October
Venue: Dorset Showground, Gillingham
Details: “This assisted gridwork clinic is with a Level 2 UKCC Coach. It is ideal for all levels including young horses.”
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Polework/gridwork clinic

Date: 31 October
Venue: Cholderton Equestrian Centre, Salisbury
Details: “This clinic includes pole sessions and gridwork with four-star event rider Stephen Way. Stephen is a highly experienced trainer and enjoys working with horses and riders of all levels with simple, confidence building techniques. Groups will range from poles for those who don’t want to leave the floor up to 1.10m.”
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Winter workout

Date: 3 November
Venue: Greenfields of Avondale, Strathaven
Details: “These training sessions with five-star event rider Olivia Wilmot covers arena event training over portable cross-country fences and showjumping courses. They are aimed at keeping your horse fit and progressing over the winter months. Lesson options of solo (45 mins) or shared sessions (one hour). We understand that it’s not always easy to follow up with homework and practice after training sessions, so we are offering riders use of the arena, complete with fences and poles for one hour homework practice at no additional charge, when you’ve booked a training session with Olivia.”
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Showjumping clinic

Date: 3 November
Venue: True Fate Equestrian Centre, Doncaster
Details: “This clinic is with Niall Fergusson and offers 30 minute private sessions.”
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Gridwork/polework clinic

Date: 17 November
Venue: Woodruffe Stables, Epsom
Details: “This clinic is with Becky vanden Bogaerde. Becky is a fully qualified and insured BHSAI Int SM with over 18 years experience teaching a variety of levels, ages and disciplines. Her teaching style encourages the rider to pay attention to detail to achieve results, correct technique and position with an awareness of biomechanics are a strong focus. Whatever your area of interest whether it be dressage, jumping or hacking, Becky will help you become a safer more effective rider and to get more from your horse and your riding. Becky uses a series of exercises to suit each group of horses and riders and gives a new insight into their riding and plenty of ideas to take away with you and work on at home.”
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Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings