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 with jumps

    Jumping exercises: the serpentine

    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. Jumping exercises: the turnback

    The turnback jumping 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 for jumpers

    Jumps on a bending line

    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 jumping exercise

    Jumping exercises: the clock

    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. Jumping exercises using barrel

    The barrel exercise for showjumpers

    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.

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