Improving the jumping canter
Leaving aside the ability of the horse and the skill of the rider, the success of a jumping round largely comes down to the quality of the horse’s canter.
In this post, our Showjumping expert Liam Buckley gives us a simple exercise with canter poles to assess and improve your jumping canter.
Firstly, warm your horse up thoroughly, working on suppleness, rhythm and balance.
Then set up your canter poles with 4 strides (17.64m) from the first to the second pole and 5 strides (21.30m) then to the 3rd pole.
Using the placing poles, canter straight through this grid in a forward, balanced canter. If the canter is correct, then you will easily get 4 then 5 strides. If this doesn’t come easily then the quality of your canter isn’t right.
Go large around the arena and open up the canter, then collect and once you feel your horse is forward and responsive, try the grid again. Repeat until you are comfortably making the 4 and 5 stride distance.
Once the canter is predictable, the grid can be used to lengthen and shorten the canter by adding in and taking out strides.
When your horse is fluent through this exercise on a straight line, bending lines can be added as per the diagram below, again the distance set at 4 and 5 strides. For the bending line you will need to shorten the distances by 1m because you will get to the fence sooner while riding on the arch to a fence on a bending line than a straight line.
When this grid can be done easily with the set strides and then adding or deducting strides, fences can then be introduced into this sequence in place of the poles. However, if fences are used then the distances must be adjusted accordingly.