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Training with Ben Hobday - Balancing Act
International event rider, Ben Hobday, talks us through a useful training exercise that riders of all levels can use.
When jumping a full course of show jumps, keeping a horse in balance in the correct rhythm between the jumps can sometimes be difficult.
This training exercise has been set up to help the horse achieve a good canter rhythm whilst remaining well balanced and encouraging the horse to think for itself.
So here we’ve set up two vertical jumps and added some poles in between them. The idea of the poles, is to get to the horse to think. Quite simply, if you can get a horse to think for you, he can get you out of trouble and jump the jumps clear.
The exercise is set up so, as we land over the first upright, we have 3 and half yards which gives an indication to the horse that it needs to bounce, then as soon as it lands, take off again. Then there is 6 yards, which is one short stride to another one stride to another bounce to the second jump.
On the second stride, I’ve put 2 guidance poles in either side just to help the horse to keep straight. Don’t start with the jumps too big because you want the horse to focus on where it’s toes are going.
This horse has a really small stride so in this first attempt she was very careful when she landed over the first pole, which is great. Then I just sat still to give the horse a chance to look, and she actually got 2 strides in here and then a bounce at the end. This is not ideal, but what I like is that horse kept her rhythm and still got to the jump in balance – great job.
As a rider it’s got to get me to question what my next move is…..
In the second exercise I have lengthened the bounce pole to give the horse a little more room on landing so that we can keep the power and momentum in the canter and try and achieve the one stride that we wanted in the first place.
Here this horse is very careful, she can cover the ground but her natural size of stride is quite small. I’ve adapted the distance slightly so that we don’t trick her or catch her out because that’s not the aim of the exercise.
It just goes to show, that just because a normal distance is ok for most horses it doesn’t mean it’s right for every horse, and in training you have to take that into account.
What we want her to do is think where she’s putting her feet and when she thinks correctly she’s rewarded with a nice even jump.
When we altered it slightly, we got a lovely jump from the first jump and on to the second element and the distance became nice and even for her.
Onwards and Upwards.
After completing the exercise, which helps to get the horse thinking, as well as us thinking, I like to jump around a course and put it into practice and to help get a feel of what the horse is going to be like in the ring. We’ve put a few fences up and what I’ll try do it react to the feel that the horse is giving me, keep the power in the canter, my lines straight while keeping the canter balanced all the way to the take-off spot.
CategoryEquine Behaviour, Horse Care & Equipment, Training, Wellbeing
Why not give it a go!
Want to improve your show jumping this year? Why not give this video a watch to try out a new jumping exercise with your horse!
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