What’s in Your Ring? with Leah Snowden

What’s in Your Ring? is a new EN series 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.

Leah Snowden and Ormolu. Photo by Vics Pics.

Leah Snowden and Ormolu. Photo by Vics Pics.

It’s easy to spot Leah Snowden on a cross country course in her signature pink gear. I’m always envious of this Kentucky gal’s get-up and impressed by her riding — she brought both her Prelim horse, Ormolu, and her Intermediate horse, Ivy League, up the levels herself and has had success with them both.

Most recently Leah won the Open Prelim division at Flying Cross Farm earlier this month on Ormolu. “Lou Lou” is a Selle Francais by Baloubet Du Rouet out of a Dutch Grand Prix show jumper named Charmed.

In addition to eventing — their fall plan is to do Jumpstart H.T. and Hagyard Midsouth H.T. then a one-star — the pair has been moonlighting in the show jumping ring, where they’ve been quite prone to winning!

“She is a very careful jumper,” Leah says of Lou Lou. “Very smart and brave and she figures out jump exercises quickly. She also loves cross county and is quick thinking and is the perfect size for me.”

Her Intermediate horse, Ivy League, recently finished 3rd at the River Glen Summer H.T. and also won the Thoroughbred Initiative Program (TIP) award at Champagne Run H.T. in July. Both horses are owned by her husband, Bill.

Leah Snowden and Ivy League. Photo courtesy of Leah Snowden.

Leah Snowden and Ivy League. Photo courtesy of Leah Snowden.

Leah trains out of Valley View Farm in Midway, KY, and Split Rock Farm in Paris, KY. The exercise she shares with us today is courtesy of four-star rider Allie Knowles, who you’ll recognize as the trainer in the videos.

What’s in Leah’s ring? “Eight-foot canter poles to 21-foot one-strides with tall crossrails to encourage straightness.”

Photo courtesy of Leah Snowden.

Photo courtesy of Leah Snowden.

Photo courtesy of Leah Snowden.

Photo courtesy of Leah Snowden.

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How to ride it: “This exercise will back off the horse at first so the rider will need to send the horse through forward while staying relaxed. Once the horse is comfortable going through the grid off both reins we add in the oxer three-stride to vertical off the left rein after going through the grid. Make sure the rider keeps his or her hips to the inside and turns the horse off the outside leg (not by pulling the horse with the inside rein, which could make the horse crooked).

Then add: vertical two-stride to oxer two-stride to vertical.

Then add: oxer bending line to three-stride to vertical.

Then add: triple-bar three-stride to vertical two-stride to vertical.

All combined:

What she likes about it: “The exercise works in turning horse from outside aids and making sure the rider keeps his or her hips to inside. Don’t pull on the inside rein. Work on riding forward out of turns and the straightness of the horse.

“The exercise really builds confidence in both horse and rider and also will help with a horse that needs to be more careful. My horse is the opposite — he’s very careful but over-jumps — but it helped by having me be able to put leg on and push through and lengthen her stride to help cover distances.”

Many thanks to Leah and Allie for sharing, and best of luck!

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]

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