Training Tip from Sally Cousins: Jump Schools

We are delighted to host Sally Cousins as an EN guest blogger, as she shares her wealth of knowledge with us in the form of training tips. We hope these nuggets of information can be integrated directly into your program at home and can influence the way you ride and train your horses. Be sure to check out both the Sally Cousins Eventing website and keep up with her on Facebook.

Sally Cousins and Abecca GS. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sally Cousins and Abecca GS. Photo by Jenni Autry.

It is important to have a plan for a jump school before you get on to ride. This may involve moving jumps before you start or arranging to have someone there to set jumps while you ride.

Except for cross country schooling, I have two different types of schools that I do: one focuses on the horse’s technique, and the other focuses on exercises designed to help with the horses education.

Most of my horses jump at least once a week. It keeps them from being silly when I do jump them; it also helps them crack their backs. I also try to keep the number of jumps per school to a minimum.

In some schools, I work on angled jumps, bending lines or related distances. The last school before an event I prefer to be about technique. If the last phase your horse did at his last event was cross country, chances are you will need to have a quieter school to get the horse round and settled again.

Sometimes if I have had a problem at an event, the following school will work on fixing whatever went wrong. If the horse had stopped on cross country or struggled through the triple in show jumping, I would school that specifically, hopefully within the week following the event. That gives me an idea of how big a problem I have and an idea of how long it will take to fix it.

Unless you get to jump a lot or compete regularly, most schools will be a combination of both of these types. If I have introduced something new, I will try to finish the school on something the horse finds relatively easy so he goes back to the barn in a good frame of mind.

The younger horses will need more educational type work, and the experienced upper-level horses may just need light schools to keep them sharp. Each horse is different, and our jobs as riders and trainers is to find what works best for our horse.