Mix long and short approaches
The ability to shorten and lengthen the stride!
Starting to get everything together. One thing that is very important in a successful showjumping round is the ability to lengthen and shorten the canter strides. If you can do this successfully you can do really tight turns mixed with long almost “steeplechase like” approaches. How awesome is that! To do this you will of course also need the ability to see where the horse is going to jump, to see the stride (more exercises for this later on in the series).
Put a parallel oxer in the middle of the arena, you should be able to jump this fence from both directions. Leave a ground pole each side about 20 cm from the fence, think width instead of height, but don’t overdo it. Build four uprights as picture above is showing. Vary the heights, some fences should be easy for you to push your limits turning..
Go on! Jump!
This exercise is about experimenting with your limits! How tight can you turn? Can you alter the canter really fast? Do you dare to lengthen the stride to max, jumping the oxer?
No, I do not want to get you killed, but I want you to relax and have fun as well as pushing your ability. Sometimes this requires a bit of letting your hair down. Remember that this should be fun for someone else too!!! Your horse!! And the good thing is, it has every ingredient to be just as fun for your horse.
Try to mix long and short approaches as the arrows show above and think of the following:
- To shorten the stride, sit up, use your voice, by all means use your reins but the less you have to rely on the reins the better, they are after all connected to your horses mouth.
- Where are you going next? Make a plan and stick to it! You can’t expect your horse to know where you are going if you don’t. Always aim for the middle of the fence!
- Lengthen the stride. Do as the Irish! Go full speed! Have you ever seen an Irish 8 yr old riding a 12’2 pony? Watch and learn! This is what is needed in modern time showjumping. Jump offs over the last few years have been more or less equal to a race at Cheltenham (racing over the sticks for those of you who have not yet discovered the sport of Kings). It’s all about being able to see a stride at speed and work with the horse, not against it. Too much control without having the all famous eye can easily lead to disaster.
- To combine the two you need to act fast, be ready for whats next when the horse lands after a fence.
These things cannot be said enough:
- Heals down
- Look at the next fence
- Do not dive over the horse’s neck when jumping
- Sit up
- Hold your hands still
- Whilst doing all these things SMILE, no really there’s nothing like a smile to make you relax into what you are doing and making it count.
With this exercise you should have learnt where your limits are. How tight can you turn and how much can you lengthen your canter strides. Note this down. You should feel more competent in shortening and lengthening the strides. The confidence in taking a sharp turn should be growing and the picture of you as that 8 year old Irish kid should start to grow more clear in your minds eye.
Revise!!! Practise makes perfect.
Happy Jumping! And see you all next week!
Written by @StinaHarvidsson with the inspiration of Eddy Andersson.