I launched the “What’s in Your Ring?” series a few weeks ago with selfish motives, honestly, as I frequently find myself at a loss for new jumping exercises. I’m sure I’m not alone, so why not get some crowdsourcing going?
To help get the ball rolling I thought I’d pay it forward and share an excerpt from my my own personal file folder of go-to jumping exercises. I can’t remember who or where I picked this up from — it’s a classic, really — but it’s a good one.
I like it, first and foremost, because it is quick and easy to set up, ideal for those days when you’re scrambling to get a jump school in but don’t have time to drag a whole bunch of jumps into the ring. It’s also scalable enough to benefit horses of all levels.
All you need: four poles, four standards, four ground poles, and some random object to serve as the centerpiece. I have a plastic barrel that does the trick, but you can make do with a hay bale, a cavaletti block, a mounting block, a muck bucket — anything, really.
Build it big or build it small; you could even just do poles on the ground for the green ones.
A few variations on the theme, as demonstrated by my 13.99999-hand superpony Princess.
Cloverleaf — Jump, land, turn, repeat. You can make the “leaves” of your shamrock as large or challengingly tiny as you like, and mix it up between right and left-hand turns if you like, which is helpful for impetuous types (“You think you know what’s coming next, smarty-pants, but you don’t! Wait for your rider to tell you which way to go!”). Keep it going for as long as you like, or until you start getting dizzy!
This is a great exercise for rideability and jumping off turns. Do your part by thinking about turning the outside of the horse while keeping the inside legs moving. Don’t slam on the brakes but sit up and ride forward through the turn, letting the geometry work its magic on your horse’s balance.
Skinny — You can also jump across the middle in a figure-8. It’s a nice exercise for straightness, and the slightly claustrophobic experience of riding into the V produces a sharp jump.
Corner/Bounce — In addition to going straight across, you can ride it as a corner or an angled bounce (9′-10″ for trot). Be very careful here to make clear to your horse which one it is you’re going after; for a corner, I’d recommend laying a pole across or filling in the middle to make sure your horse doesn’t attempt to put his feet down in the middle of it. Vice-versa, you don’t want him to not put his feet down in the bounce.
Do you have an exercise to share or is there an eventer you would like to nominate for the series? Email me at [email protected]