Developing control and awareness for showjumping success

Here is an exercise used by a lot of coaches to see what level of control and awareness a rider has when it comes to maintaining a rhythm around a course of fences. It’s very simple to set up and works really well for a horse or rider that rushes too much to a fence.

When showjumping, it’s very important that a rider maintains the rhythm to a fence and learns to wait. The fence is not going anywhere, so you don’t have to rush at it as if it’s running away – a very clever coach once said “strides are like men, don’t take the first one that comes along”!

So with that in mind, build the grid detailed in the diagram at a height you are confident at. After a proper warm up which must include a multiple of transitions both in trot and canter, the exercise consists of two or three trot poles to a bounce of cross poles and directly in line a five stride distance to an oxer.

To complete correctly you will need to be working on the rhythm, straightness and relaxation from the bounce to the oxer, five strides away. When you have reached the point where you and your horse are popping the bounce and picking up a nice relaxed rhythmical canter to the oxer on the measured five strides, you can be adventurous and try adding an extra stride, so you will be riding six strides to the oxer.

It goes without saying that this exercise is a tool used by a lot of trainers, so it would be a lot more beneficial for you to use this along with your coach – eyes on the ground will provide you with insights and experience that you cannot get on your own…enjoy!

Liam Buckley

Control-and-awareness in showjumping



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