What’s in Your Ring? with Mikensey Johansen, Presented by Attwood

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 Mikensey Johansen, a a 17-year-old eventer based out of Big Bear Training Center in Pine Mountain, GA. We reached out to her following her recent win in the Open Intermediate division at the February Poplar Place H.T. riding Grey Prince.

Mikensey has represented Area III on the NAJYRC 1* team for the past two years and has high hopes for being selected for the 2* team this summer. Between young horses and her upper level competition horses, Mikensey stays active in Midland Foxhounds Pony Club, the Midland Hunt, and competitive softball. She explains that riding is her passion and something that she hopes to pursue as her career one day as a professional.

Mikensey Johansen and Grey Prince at NAJYRC 2016. Photo by JJ Sillman.

Mikensey Johansen and Grey Prince at NAJYRC 2016. Photo by JJ Sillman.

In my ring you will find several different types of shortening exercises with varying difficulty. The shortening exercises assist the horse in using their hind end to increase their bascule and adjustability. For horses that may pull or rush into lines, it helps to back them off of the fences and allows them to further process the question at hand.

For young or green horses, the exercises allow them to learn how to package their power. The first exercise, “The Circle of Hell,” is a circle of four verticals spaced four strides apart.

When entering the circle, the rider’s goal should be to achieve four strides in between each jump. After the horse and rider are comfortable with the exercise, the rider must then shorten the horse’s stride between the jumps to fit in a fifth stride. The rider can continue to shorten until they fit as many strides in as they can. This exercise increases adjustability and teaches the horse and rider how to package the stride.

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The next exercise is a line with an oxer, two strides to a bounce, three bending strides to a wide oxer. The first jump in the line encourages the horse to enter forward. The bounce will force the horse to back off in the middle of the line and sit on his hind end and set him up for the next fence. The bending line keeps the horse sitting on his hind end in the turn and encourages him to jump through his back over the wide oxer.

The last exercise is a series of trot poles, followed by a vertical, one stride to a cavaletti, one stride to a bounce.

First, the trot poles catch the horse’s attention and encourages a larger trot step. The vertical to the cavaletti to another vertical makes the horse back off in the middle of the line, causing them to engage their hind end and pay attention to every aspect of the line. The bounce at the end prevents the horse from getting too strung out at the end of the line and further encourages them to use their hind end to create greater bascule.

All three exercises can be adjusted to benefit horses of all levels.

Many thanks to Mikensey 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]