Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Jump, Whoa, Wait, Repeat

For any of you that have ever endured the torture that is the 'circle exercise' (4 jumps dividing the four quadrants of the circle) then you understand the dread I felt when I was informed of this lesson's jumping exercise.  Two jumps is bad enough, four is... just not fun.  It's a wonderful exercise, especially in training the forward or hard to turn horse.
For those that haven't done it, the goal is to jump the jump, rock the horse back (or bring them back to trot to start), turn a nice square turn (effectively spinning them on their haunches when they balance back), release, and jump the next jump.  Rinse, repeat.
Cadence and my last jumping experience didn't go too well (mostly due to bad planning on my part) but her warm up was good and she was nice and responsive, especially considering the two other horses in the ring (one of which is a very green horse/rider combination)  She had a nice long canter warm up in which we concentrated on maintaining her nice calm canter, without too much fuss.  I was especially proud of the fact that she maintained that nice bannana bend to the right!
Anywho, we started the jumping exercise with one jump and three poles.  After trotting this a few times each direction, we popped up two cross rails.  Starting with just the two jumps allowed me to instill the immediate 'back' after the fences (coming right back to a WAITING trot before going to each pole/fence) and then when we added the other two fences, it wasn't all that difficult.  It took her a few tries to find her legs, but she remembered enough that we were able to jump, come back to trot, and then head to the fence with her rocked back and waiting, not galloping like a bulldozer.  There were one or two 'oopsies' each direction, but I just corrected her, (not heading for the next jump) and then continued on with the exercise.  When we tried it in the canter, I was surprized with how amazing she was!  So good and calm.  Better to the right than the left; it was easier to get her to bend right than it was to keep her fromgoing through that right shoulder.  However, she picked up on a very difficult exercise perfectly her first try.  I was so pleased.  Her jumping and dressage are now both at or above the level of Bailey's when I stopped riding him, they far surpass Arty's, and well none of the other horses I ride/have ridden really compare.
On an interesting note, we tried her in a 5" loose ring (no hooks or anything harsh like that) myler and she seemed to do pretty well with it.  I think the action's good (especially to help with her right side bend issues) but I think they're a little too thin for her... she was still a wee bit fussy with it.  I'll either ride in the myler or her regular snaffle tonight; still not sure.


  1. Are you doing the 4 jumps on a very small circle?
    I was taught to do it on a 20m circle at a trot, maintaining the bend and letting the horse figure out a distance. Bigger circle at a canter. Maintain bend, keep them from running out through their shoulder and let them figure it out. Teaches an effective use of the outside rein.
    I'm going to be stuck in the indoor for a lesson on Thursday, less than 20m wide. Having the rider do it like a square with a big half halt might work in a smaller space. And be a different exercise.

  2. The circle wasn't quite circular, about 20 x 23? Just guessing. It is small enough that if you want to make it to the next jump correctly, you almost NEED the square. The idea is to ensure that they aren't falling in, aren't falling out, and to ensure that each action is an individual and definable step to help the horse understand. It worked quite well for Cadence as it forced her to not rush after the fence, and to wait and listen for my aid.
    The key to the exercise is the release, so you can let the horse do it themselves. Does that make sense? After you get a successful turn, you release as both a reward, and to allow them to approach the next fece and figure out the distance themselves. If you DON'T get the release, the 'training of the desired response' is mitigated. Am I making sense?