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 courtesy of Babette Lenna, an Eventing ICP Level II instructor who has competed up to the CIC3* level. Babette bases her teaching/training business, B Eventing, out of Gathering Farm in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.
What’s in our ring in the winter varies. While our indoor is a great size, the major issue we have is utilizing the space well when we move jumps inside for the winter. When you have six horses plus jumps in there at once it gets a little, shall we say, tricky. So what we practice in our ring is the best exercises with the fewest jumps.
Usually we have only four fences set up, but sometimes we’ll have a maximum of five. My challenge for myself from there is how difficult can I make a course of four or five jumps while still maximizing the number of schooling options for the ultimate amount of training.
In the winter months we like to spend a good bit of time jumping for the sake of training our rideability. This means a lot of turning exercises, a lot of stride-based exercises, and a lot of lines that require control of the whole horse. I find that even with the jumps at a low height (around 2’6” generally, but maybe up to 3’ for solid Training/Preliminary riders) the challenge of the exercise in the indoor makes them plenty difficult.
The winter is also a very good time for me to enforce to all of our students that the flat work and the quality of the flat work — the quality of the canter — is what makes the jumps possible. I try and base the exercises I create with that as the central concept. In January before I head off to Aiken I also like to challenge the young riders especially to come up with their own set of exercises.
Below are a few of the variations we have had in the indoor this winter already. Some of the ideas are ones that I have taken from jump courses over the year at shows or exercises that various instructors and professionals have shown me over the years — just on a smaller scale for the indoor.
1. Center Line Serpentine
Set four fences evenly spaced along the center line. Warm up by trotting a serpentine in between the fences before trotting over them in a serpentine. At the canter, jump every other fence — two fences on one lead, two fences on the other lead.
2. Four Angled Fences
Set four angled fences down the center line of the ring. Here are three ways to ride these fences:
- Ride bending line between each jump. Ideally, if your ring is big enough, make it a four stride bending line.
- After each jump, ride a circle away from the next fence before approaching the next jump.
- Ride the angled fences straight through.
Babette’s student Adele MacEwen on Dexter demonstrating the exercise:
3. Five Fences, Endless Courses!
There are many options using this set up. If your ring is big enough, ideally the lines on the long sides would be seven strides and the bending lines between the middle jump and outside jumps would be five strides.
4. Simple Square
This is more than five fences, technically, but it should still only take up half your ring. Ride it as a large rectangle or a square, rather than a circle. You can make it harder by setting up four bounces instead of two, or easier by making them cavalettis instead of jumps. Don’t try to it all at once right away – put it together section by section.
When you don’t want to have your indoor taken over by jumps but you need to practice all kinds of skills over the winter, I find this type of game plan really helps accomplish both. I hope they help you in your space-sharing winter dilemmas too!
Many thanks to Babette 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].