What’s in Your Ring? is an EN series sponsored by Attwood Equestrian Surfaces 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 from Kate Brown, a 4* event rider as well as a USDF bronze and silver medalist. She operates her training business, Kate Brown Eventing, in Aiken, SC, year-round. She is currently campaigning a lovely young horse, Victor Z, who is new to the Prelim level — we wish them the best of luck in 2017!
I like to use this exercise to get a horse’s attention sharper and to get riders thinking ahead. There are a number of routes you can take depending on the level of your horse/rider combo but I will discuss the paths I primarily use.
As a warm up I start with cavaletti vertical cavaletti line. I keep the obstacles about the same height and let the horse figure its foot work out. Once that has been done I raise the height of the verticals appropriate to the level of the horse and start to incorporate the other elements.
I will do one vertical line turning to the center oxer (often I begin with the center oxer as a tall X to keep the riders/horses straight) and from there add a left or right turn to a skinny. From here you can vary tuning left and right to keep your horse listening and focused.
I find using tall Xs and cavaletti and skinny fences really forces the rider to ride through good turns and get straight to their fences.
The height of the fences can be as large or small as necessary. I do this with green/beginner novice horses using X rails and placing poles rather than tall cavaletti but they still use the skinny fences. For the more advanced horses I find using a wider square oxer really challenges the rider to ride forward through the turns and not get stuck waiting or backwards.
With the more advanced horses I then continue on to another bending exercise that adds more of a cross country feel. I have an oxer bending 8 to a corner, then 3 strides to an angled vertical. From there continue in a large roll back turn back to angle the vertical the other way and then 2 strides to a skinny.
Usually after they’ve warmed up through the S curve exercise previously mentioned, they’re straightforward to this one, but if they aren’t, omit the bending line to the oxer and just ride straight through the two fences on their own so the horse understands.
Watch Kate’s student Sydney Bolton, who is getting ready to move her thoroughbred up to Prelim this spring, demo the exercises:
Many thanks to Kate for sharing! Do you have an exercise to share or is there an eventer you would like to nominate for the “What’s in Your Ring?” series? Email [email protected]