Grid with oxers

A show jumping grid to improve balance, technique, straightness and strength.
A grid with oxers to improve technique, strength and straightness.

Grid with oxers

Improve technique, balance and strength.

Jumping grids, especially a grid with oxers have many benefits for both horse and rider, and is definitely something to include in the training from time to time, especially if you need to improve on the horses technique over a fence.

The rider also benefits hugely, the focus must be on keeping the horse straight. It is also great for the more cautious riders as a way to introduce bigger fences. As the exercise starts in trot, with a trotting pole and a bounce chances are pretty good for the rest of the grid goes to plan too. The focus can be on keeping straight rather that seeing the stride which often can pose a problem.


Build this grid in stages. Start off with trotting poles, for a horse use the distance 1,2 m between the poles. Trot over the poles a few times turning both left and right. Add fences as sketch above, one at a time (cross pole, upright, oxer and oxer. If you want to practise height of fence build the first oxer as a parallell /box oxer and the second one as an ascending oxer. This way you can put the back pole up a bit to get the feel of a bigger fence.

Ride it like you own it!

Ride the grid a few times each time you add a fence. Think of:

  • Look at the first pole through the turn, to arrive at the grid smack bang in the middle.
  • Once at the grid lift your eyes to look straight ahead.
  • Keep your posture straight, do not fall for the temptation to lean forwards. This is an important one! If you start to lean forwards the horse will pick up speed and the grid will feel short towards the end.
  • Keep straight, coloured poles help. Also go straight after the last fence.
  • Concentrate of your balance and the ability to give the horse enough rein over each part of the grid.
  • Enjoy!! I find grids very satisfying, once you are in them they just flow. This is really a very good opportunity to practice your balance.


This exercise should help you find your balance. It should also force you to look up and concentrate on keeping your horse straight. If you are a bit cautious about bigger fences, and did try to put the last one up. Do get off your horse and compare to yourself the height you jumped. This will give you no end of confidence next time you walk a course.

The horse equally benefits from grids. It has to think and speed up the legwork . This will make your horse quicker, more scopey and last but definitely not least a lot stronger. This is a muscle building exercise. Your horse should also feel more supple after the exercise. Lazy and unresponsive horses often wake up when jumping a grid, as the exercise helps them get stronger and fitter chances are you can end up with a more responsive horse. Forward horses also benefit as they have to slow down to get the footing right.

Don’t forget to cool down after exercising your horse, walking the horse is underestimated and a big part in keeping your horse fit and healthy.

More exercises…

Keep straight

Jump a course


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This article is written by #stinaharvidsson with the inspiration of Eddy Andersson


Jump a course!

a showjumping course. An exercise to put it together and getting that bit closer to competition.
Picture 1.Jumping a course and getting the strides right.

Course exercise number 1

The importance of walking the course.

Full speed ahead! Time to try out how far the exercises have got you. We are now going to put the exercises together and jump a whole course of fences. This time it is not about jump offs and tight turns, the goal is rather to get the flow and to keep a set canter rhythm, getting that beautiful clear round.


Please see schedule above (Picture 1). Keep it simple. At this stage it is all about finding the correct lines. Uprights all round is fine. We will in following exercises go through different types of fences and how you can use them. The number of strides between the fences much depend on how big your arena is. I would like to suggest 4 strides between 1 and 2, 3 -4 strides between 2 and 3 and 5 strides between 4 and 5..

Riding the course.

Set the canter before you start, you should keep a showjumping tempo for your level. This is usually something that eventers are a lot better at than show jumpers. Please check below how to practise speed and feeling of different speeds.

Try to get a flow and avoid a stop start scenario. Sit up between the fences, this will help your horse to keep its hind leg underneath the body and thereby maintaining a powerful canter (not necessarily fast but with energy and power in each step). This is important especially if you are aiming at larger fences. Your horse will need all the power in its hind legs to jump clear.

When a fence comes quickly after a corner, as number 3 does. You will need to remember to ride the whole corner. Keep a good contact with your outside rein (here the right rein), don’t let the horse slump inwards. Try to stick to the green dotted line (see picture 2), letting your horse slump inwards (as the red dotted line may land you in trouble).

Picture 2. Ride the whole corner and plan your route.

These are the type of corners you often see horses completely bend outwards. Whilst this in some cases might be totally okay, especially if the horse is excited and very keen to jump, it is not what you should be aiming for. Perfect is to keep your horse straight for about 1 stride after the fence then flex slightly to the left and become straight again before the fence.

The red dotted line is definitely an option but only as a means to get that fabulous time in a jump off. The aim of this exercise is for you to get a clear round and actually get to the jump off!

Next part of the course


A diagonal is another one of those course details that are almost always present, in one way or another. The important thing to remember is to know the way. This is why it is so important to walk the course! Where do you get an even number of canter strides?

If you follow the green line (Picture 3) you will not go far wrong. This will also set you up better to jump the last fence. Again the red dotted line will almost certainly gain you a canter stride and thereby save you some time. This is for the more experienced horse and rider. More exercises on this to follow.

To make sure you get it right, find easily seen markers. When doing this exercise you may well use cones to make sure you stick to the green dotted lines. In a competitive situation, find markers to keep you on course. And yes not the lady with the green umbrella! She might decide to go for coffee..

The difference in riding the diagonal when wanting to keep clear and wanting to save tima.
Picture 3. The diagonal! Red dotted line most likely saves you a canter stride whilst the green dotted line will increase your chances of going clear.

Canter speed

Get to recognise your canter speed

A simple exercise to get to know your tempo is to put 2 cones on a field 500m apart (or if you have access to a racecourse with metre markers). Canter between them, using a simple stopwatch to time yourself. You then divide 500 (metres) with the amount of seconds it takes you to ride the the distance. you then multiply your result with 60 to get the metre per minute (which is how speed is spoken about in showjumping).

The speed you are supposed to ride at when competing varies with the level at which you are jumping. Showjumping speed varies between 300 mps to 400 mps (mps = metres per second), it is worth remembering to check speed and time allowed when viewing the course schedule. The speed may be different in the jump off so check this too.


After completing this exercise you should feel more confident in tackling a whole course of fences. You should also be more clear in what it means to ride for a clear round and what it means to chase the time. Did you do the canter speed exercise? If you did, you should now be a lot better equipped in knowing what is needed to avoid those pesky time faults.

Take to your notebook

Write down things that did go well and things that need more finishing. Look at this exercise as a test to see where you and your horse are at. Go back to the drawing board and practise what needs to get better. Knowing your weaknesses is your strongest asset.

Other exercises

Bendy, bendy

Keep it straight

Stand off

Rushing the fence


Written by @stinaharvidsson with the inspiration of Eddy Andersson.


Stand off

A show jumping exercise to improve technique, make the horse stand off and prevent drifting.
Exercise to prevent drifting, to slow the horse down and to improve the technique over a fence.

Stand off the fence and don’t drift.

This exercise has a whole bunch of benefits. It is created first and foremost for horses that are rushing their fences. The V pole will make them stand off the fence.

This is not the only benefit though. This exercise will also help horses that drift and horses that need to improve the technique over a fence. It will also make the horse “think” more and assess the situation.


Put a vertical fence in the middle of the arena as shown above. Construct a V-shape with 2 poles, with the V resting on the top rail of the fence. Put a ground pole about 40 cm in front of the fence. If drifting is your problem you can reinforce the exercise with 4 cones (as shown in picture above).


Show jumping exercise to prevent drifting
A. Leave a wide opening in the V to make the fence more attractive to the more novice horse.
Narrowing the gap between the V poles in a jumping exercise
B. Once the horse gets used to the fence you can start to narrow the gap between the V poles.
C. V poles touching. For the more experienced horse and rider.

Start off with a lower fence and a wider V (picture A). If you ride a novice horse you can approach this in trot, but continue into canter as soon as possible. Try out both left and right canter, note the difference, has your horse got more of an issue on one side? Write down your experience in a notebook, it can help you with future training sessions.

Once your horse has understood the task, start to narrow the gap between the two poles in the V until they touch (picture B and C).

If your horse is more experienced you can start with the poles touching (picture C).

Note!! This exercise do not suit horses that stand off the fences. It should also be used with caution when dealing with nervous horses.


Done correctly this exercise should make the horse back off the fence a little, which in turn should make it possible for the rider to ride with a softer hand. The horse should also use a better technique over the fence, especially the front leg action. Focus on the fence should also improve along with straightness over the fence.

Want to practise some more??

Bendy, bendy

Supple with a bounce

Keep it straight!

Which way?



Written by @stinaharvidsson with inspiration from Eddy Andersson