This exercise offers a few different difficulties. It combines riding through corners with the ability to keeping your horse straight through doubles. The warm up will keep you focused and perfect your skills at showing your horse which way to go!! Precision!
Start by putting 4 small fences in a square in the middle of the arena as pictured. Poles on the ground is ok if you want to keep it easy. The distance between the fences depend on what horse or pony you are riding. It also depends if you want to stick to trot (shorter) or go on to a collected canter ( a little longer) or if you want to use the distances used at competition which would be a little longer again. Please see below for distances.
Put bright post-it notes on the X – spots. These will help you keep straight. Another good thing to use for this purpose is chalk.
Begin to feel your way through this exercise in trot. Find your perfect way over the poles or small fences. Choose the easier blue option first before trying the green and red options. It is usually easier to change direction over a fence than keeping to the same direction. Try to keep focused, aim to go into the square smack bang in the middle between two fences, also aim to jump each fence in the middle, use coloured poles that clearly mark the middle. Practise your accuracy. This will come in very hand in Jump offs against the clock.
When you feel completely confident in trot, continue the exercise in collected canter. Keep your horse flexed through the corners and straight over the fences.
The next step is to try the doubles. I recommend doing this in canter, if you prefer trot please note you will need shorter distances. use uprights to start off
Be meticulous!!! Ride in a straight line on the diagonal between the post-it notes. When you are in the air over the second half of the double, look where you are going next. Flex the horse around your inner leg through the corner and continue the exercise as a figure of eight. After two diagonals, follow the outer wall to change direction.
Continue to build the fences so that you have one oxer and one upright on each diagonal. Ride the same figure of eight with the occasional long side thrown in to change direction. Whilst doing this, note the distance between the fences. Does it feel the same if you jump the oxer or the upright first? This is very important to know in a competitive situation. What do you need to do if the distance is on the short side? Sit up and shorten straight away when hitting the ground after the first element. On the contrary if the distance is a little long you will need a better canter going into the double and keep riding forwards through the whole combination. Set your horse up!
This exercise will train your ability to ride precise lines, to be meticulous. It will also further the feeling of working as a team.
In the second part of the exercise your ability to ride straight lines will be tested. It will also put a little pressure on your ability to control the canter. You should be able to set up a tempo and stick to it. The length of the strides should be equal. You should by the end feel more confident in riding through doubles and feel that you know what to do if the distance turns out to be too short or too long. Quick thinking.Distances:
If you start off in trot, use the shorter distances. For collected canter the middle ones and the longer ones for canter. The smaller the fences the shorter the distance.
Good Luck and have fun!!!
Written by Stina Harvidsson with inspiration from Eddy Andersson.
PS. Please leave a comment if you have a specific problem you would like an exercise for
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