Just like their riders, horses have their own strengths and weaknesses. And, just because your horse’s particular strength might be jumping – as opposed to dressage, showing or endurance rides – doesn’t mean there aren’t areas within that which could do with some further fine-tuning.
Whether you’re looking to add a little finesse to your jumping training by evaluating how he tackles different types of fence, or simply searching for a straightforward way to introduce some trickier fence shapes to his regime, here’s a simple exercise to get him sailing over them in no time.
Exercise: The outstanding oxer
What? An oxer, set up with two poles running parallel to one another, will get your horse up in the air. You can set it up to be either ascending – where the front rail is lower than the back – or square – where both the front and back rails are the same height. Each of these questions will encourage your horse to jump higher and he’ll make a rounder shape over the fence.
Why not try? If your horse still isn’t making the correct shape, adding V-poles to the fence may be the solution. They’ll back him off the jump and encourage him to jump higher and rounder.
Keeping the ground pole out, so he’s not drawn into the bottom of the fence, will keep him off the fence. This is particularly effective in teaching him to be more careful and explosive.
To give your horse the feel of a more solid fence, why not balance a rail across the top of the oxer, so that it’s balancing diagonally from a back corner to the opposite front corner. It’ll encourage him to take a better look at the fence, be more respectful and stretch over it.
For more great grid exercises from top rider Emily King, pick up a copy of March Horse&Rider, on sale 10 January.