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While it’s easy to look at a course of showjumps and focus on their height, width and brightly coloured fillers, try not to let the details distract you – after all, jumping the fences is your horse’s job. You can’t do it for him, but you can set him up for a successful round. By concentrating on what happens between the fences, rather than the jumps themselves, the perfect clear is within your grasp.
To show you how, let’s break riding a course down and look at what you should aim for in the ring, as well as how you can practise at home.
Before the bell
You might have seen showjumpers, or eventers in the showjumping phase, canter into the ring, ask for a walk transition, then pick up canter again. While it might look impressive, this isn’t meant to be a showcase of their skill, rather remindtheir horses to stay tuned in and listening as they prepare for the course.
To get your horse performing at his best around a course of showjumps, he needs to be ready and waiting for your aids. Riding transitions as you wait for the bell will help ensure he’s switched on and primed for your instructions.
Try this at home
Incorporate plenty of transitions into your schooling sessions and jumping warm-up. This will not only keep him responsive, but also inject his way of going with a bit more energy.
You’re not limited to walk to canter and vice versa – any transition, whether within or between the paces, will help to keep your horse on the ball and listening.
For more of William Fox-Pitt’s course riding top tips, get your copy of May Horse&Rider direct to your door with free P&P, here