The Magazine Spring 2023

Maximise your jumping space with Georgie Campbell

Posted 16th February 2023

Worried that a small school is standing in your way of jumping success? Don’t be – you can pack a serious punch in a compact arena, as eventer Georgie Campbell explains

Georgie-Campbell-Maximise-space teaser Spring 2023

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have access to a full-sized jumping arena, but with some creative thinking and a smart use of the available space, you can maximise what you have and produce a horse who’s easy and adjustable in any size space.

Work smarter, not harder

Your warm-up routine isn’t just about getting your horse’s muscles prepared for harder work – it’s also about laying the foundations for what you want to achieve in your session in a simple, low-pressure way.

Figure-of-eights and serpentines in walk and trot are perfect for encouraging lateral suppleness and relaxation because they’re repetitive, easy and allow you to split your time between each rein – having jumps set up in the arena is all the better. Some horses hot up from the moment they spot a fence, so having jumps around while you’re riding on the flat is very helpful – you can work around them, and your horse will soon learn to forget about them.


If your horse tends to tighten when you pick up canter or approach poles or fences, keep your leg on and check your contact. It should be stable and secure, so you can ride him into it and give him confidence. You can also try using take-and-release to help encourage softness, especially if he’s keen.

Exercise: the one-size-fits-all grid

Even if you only have a 20x40m school, or a corner of a field, to work in you’ll be able to set up this handy exercise that makes the best possible use of your space.

Set it up: Put a pole on the ground in each corner of the school, pointing towards the centre. At first, these will be poles on the ground but, later, you can build them up. Then, place a small 50cm bounce (3.9–4.3m apart) between E–B, so it can be jumped in either direction. You can use planks with one side of each raised alternately to create a clear channel down the middle.

Finally, down the centre line build a double of low, square oxers at around 50cm, with ground lines on each side. These will be 7.5–8m apart, depending on your horse’s stride length.


What it does: Each part of the grid develops a different skill, but all are rooted in the core skills of rhythm, balance, and suppleness. The exercise provides a progressive pathway, going from a simple task to completing the exercise in one.

Find out how to ride the one-size-fits-all grid and get your horse thinking in Spring Horse&Rider – get your copy today!

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