A combination is a row of two or three fences with no more than two strides between each and, with so many jumping efforts to tackle in such a short space of time, they’re a common sticking point for riders. If just one element of your approach isn’t quite right, the chance of you making it through the combination leaving all the elements standing are slim, but get it spot on and your horse will fly through it with ease.
In December Horse&Rider, Tim Stockdale explains the importance of setting yourself up to ride a combination correctly. From your jumping position, to the angle of your approach, Tim helps you to create confidence as you approach the dreaded combination part of your course.
DID YOU KNOW?
The easiest combinations are those with two strides between the fences because they give you more time between jumping efforts. Treble combinations with one and two strides between them are a little trickier, whereas a treble with just one stride is the most difficult, particularly if there are two consecutive oxers, because your horse is being asked to stretch without much pace.
Frequently, riders are told that they should sit up between fences and, when riding round a course, that’s good advice, but doing this through a combination can cause all sorts of problems. Riding through a combination of two or three jumps takes six or seven seconds. If you keep adjusting your position dramatically in that very short space of time, you’ll be constantly moving your body, which will make jumping hard for your horse because he’ll have to try to counterbalance you.
Ideally, your body should stay in a neutral position all the way through the combination – not folded forward, but not completely upright, either. The key is to hover in balance out of the saddle, using your ankles as suspension.
Other key things to think about for a good position are to keep your…
- head up and look forward
- hands up and the contact elastic
- weight down into your heel
- elbows soft so you can give with your hand over the fence
To read more of Tim Stockdale’s expert advice, get your copy of December Horse&Rider, out now.