4 Exercises For Your Jumping Horse
As you switch out the daily turnout rugs for riding gear, make the most of your sessions by advancing your skillset. As you and your horse work in unison to improve your performance and overcome new obstacles, the increase in skill, accuracy and results will be apparent. Working on your jumping ability doesn’t have to require access to cutting edge facilities and advanced equipment; we have pulled together 4 exercises you can incorporate into your training plan to take your jumping skills to the next level.
- Close take off points
To get more from a simple fence, adjust the distance of the take off points of jumps you make for varying techniques. Shorten the length you have between you and the fence when jumping as this will mean your horse has to push off the ground with more power than usual in order to clear the fence, developing their technique. By having to stretch their neck, lift their shoulders and push with their hind legs, the increase in power is a great training method. Similarly, try jumping with added distance as this requires your horse to jump flat, engaging different areas of their body for a new approach to the same jump.
- Introduce gymnastics
Being a versatile way to focus on your induvial strengths and weaknesses, the addition of gymnastics helps to improve technique. Whether you incorporate a larger jump at the end of a line to build up strength and confidence or low jump bounces to increase agility and stamina, find what works for you and your horse. By switching up the nature of the jumps, your horse can adapt to scenarios they have not found themselves in before and use their body to overcome the challenge, engaging different body parts for a better technique.
- Higher cross poles
Cross poles are particularly effective for training your horse to take on a jump as straight as possible, improving accuracy and direction. As the edges are higher and gradually meet at a lower central point, your horse will need to tackle the fence straight on and jump more cleanly, keeping their legs central for a quality jump. Your horse will learn to keep their feet as high off the ground as possible in order to avoid touching the poles, keeping them motivated and energised in comparison to traditional poles that they may be used to.
- Keep oxers low
Whether you incorporate them as part of a grid or use them as a solo exercise, training with low oxers is particularly effective for encouraging stretching during a jump. Keep the bar very low but widen them apart, creating a longer space between the two so your horse has to open up in order to clear the jump. This movement forces them to use their back muscles and carefully position their hind legs to avoid touching the pole, requiring high levels of attention to succeed. If your horse struggles with the concept and uses the gap in between as a bounce, you can rest another pole diagonally to make it clear that the whole distance needs to be cleared.