Showjumping is a great way to have fun with your horse. Regardless of the height or technicality you’re comfortable with, there are classes week in, week out around the country that are perfectly suited to you both. If you’re planning to compete this summer, increase your chances of achieving a clear round by being savvy about how you walk the course and having an effective warm-up routine.
Walk this way
The course will be open for walking between classes. Walk the exact line you plan to ride, which will give you the chance to see everything as your horse will see it. As you walk the course, consider…
- where’s the start and finish? Make sure you pass through the starting markers or timers before you jump the first fence and do the same with the finish markers at the end. If you don’t, you could be eliminated
- how can you maintain your active canter? When you’re in the ring, it’s important not to let the quality of your canter slip. Pick certain parts of the course where you can regroup and adjust the canter as needed
- will the distances ride short or long for your horse? Stride out combinations and compare them to what you use in training. If the distances at the show are longer, you’ll need to open his stride out a fraction or shorten it enough to add in an extra stride. If the distances are shorter, you’ll need a controlled, bouncy canter
Common mistakes in the warm-up are doing too much and throwing your usual routine out of the window. The warm-up area is likely to be crowded and a bit hectic, but don’t let this panic you – stay focused and stick to your plan, and your horse will follow suit.
- When you start warming up, focus on straightness and relaxation. Don’t just think of your flatwork as a necessary precursor to jumping – use this time to get him working correctly, using plenty of transitions, and changes of bend and direction.
- When you’re ready to jump, don’t be tempted to pop each practice fence countless times or jump considerably higher than you will in the ring. Pop a cross-pole once or twice, then an upright and, when you’ve hit the rhythm and stride that feels right, jump a spread set at the height of your course or a little higher.
- Before you turn into a fence, call out so the other riders can clear the way and don’t stop or circle on landing in case someone has followed you over too closely.
To find out more secrets to successful showjumping, pick up your copy of the April issue Horse&Rider, on sale 8 March.