What’s in Your Ring? Arena Cross Country with Kim Keppick

What’s in Your Ring? is a new EN series in which riders share their favorite jumping exercises. It’s easy to get stuck in a training rut, and we hope this will inspire you with fresh ideas that you can take home and incorporate into your own programs.

This week’s edition comes courtesy of Kim Keppick, an Advanced level event rider who has competed internationally as a member of the Irish three-day team and is the developer of Rein-Aid Productions (www.rein-aid.com). She shares some ideas for improving your cross country skills in the ring, with exercises demonstrated by her student Wendy Bebie.

Wendy Bebie and Calero, "Roo." Photo by GRC Photography.

Wendy Bebie and Calero, “Roo.” Photo by GRC Photography.

Whether it is an indoor or outdoor sometimes we must school only in an arena with good footing. This applies to Virginia in the winter when the ground is frozen and also to when the ground is SO hard in the summer that you do not want to train or condition on the grass.

Wendy Bebie has a super ring and I am privileged to be her trainer. We always mix up grid work, with course work and unusual visual challenges including turns, skinnies etc. This helps not only improve skills but stops them from being bored stuck in a ring an extended period.

Wendy and “Roo” clearly have fun when challenged with something new. It must of course be a progressive introduction to either a new question or new height.

When teaching skinnies I start really slow and small. Assuming the horse is ready to start working on skinnies, I use a barrel on its side with short poles or something else on each side under it to stabilize it and standards with a short rail over it. Remove the rail but keep the standards. Always remove the jump cups from the standards if there is no rail in them.

Once the horse is comfortable with that, take one standard away at a time. You can use a long rail propped on the side of the barrel at an angle away from barrel to act as a guide and then on the ground as necessary. Your goal is to have him stay straight and honest with no standards or guiding rails.

Once you and your horse are comfortable with the barrel then there are no limits to what skinny jumps you can ask them to jump. Just be fair and progressive in your training.

While this video collage does not show starting a youngster over skinny jumps it does show a confident horse and rider jumping a variety of them.

Video credit: Joey Snider.

Many thanks to Kim for sharing. Do you have an exercise to share or is there an eventer you would like to nominate for the series? Email [email protected]