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 the grid a few times each time you add a fence. Think of:
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.
This article is written by #stinaharvidsson with the inspiration of Eddy Andersson
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