Posted by: rstor | April 19, 2012

Jump to it.. as featured in April’s Local Rider magazine

Many of us are preparing for the showjumping season, putting in the groundwork at home and planning our goals for 2012. With so many great riding establishments in the South East available for hire and training, as well as competition, we are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to showjumping venues!

To get you in the mood for this discipline, we asked two of our favourite jumping riders to share their training tips:

Introduce stride adjustment: by para-show jumper, Susi Rogers Hartley

This exercise works on adapting rhythm within the different ‘gears’ (ie the horse’s length of stride) in canter – an essential skill when jumping. It is also very good for improving the rider, as it teaches them to sit still while they adjust the stride. For me, as a paraplegic rider, balance is everything. Canter is so important for showjumpers – I’d estimate that around 80% of a showjumping competition is performed on the flat! If flatwork is ignored, then problems on a jumping course will inevitably occur in one form or another, for example with run outs, the horse losing confidence, or even with falls.

My top tip is to sit as still as you can and do not change your seat pressure the whole way through the exercise. Keep the rhythm by counting to yourself. Remember to breathe!

  • Place three ground poles in the middle of the riding area, so you can work evenly on both reins. Work on four average horse strides (55ft/16.8m) between the poles.
  • Work on getting a nice canter before you start; without a good rhythm, real control and accuracy are impossible. Rhythm is the foundation of the canter stride!
  • Ride a straight line in canter through the three poles, with four strides of the same length, balance and rhythm. Aim for four strides between the first and second pole, and four between the second and third pole. We will call this a ‘four:four’. Now try a ‘five:five’ – five strides between the first and second pole, and five between the second and third pole – shorten your horse through the poles.
  • Now start mixing up the number of strides – ask for a ‘five:four’, then a ‘four:five’ – you are working on changing the length of stride while maintaining the rhythm. Apply both legs to make the stride bigger and longer, while retaining the rhythm.
  • After riding the exercise in this way, you can put the work into context by tackling individual fences.

Top tips for showjumping riders, from Michaela Huntington, double Champion at the 2011 National Amateur Show Jumping Finals

  • Concentrate when you are in the ring – your mind is your most powerful tool. Be forward thinking, think and do what you know can be successful. Get into the right mindset when you compete.
  • Develop your fitness – you need to be really agile and fit to compete in showjumping competitions, and you need to have the body balance to help your horse jump safely.
  • To improve your horse’s fitness, put in the hours – this means dedicated schooling, flat work, pole work and jumping, interspersed with gentle hacks and roadwork to relax and reward your horse’s concentration.
  • Ride with an RS-tor safety aid, whether schooling or competing (you can use it in affiliated competitions). It attaches to the stirrup bars via a webbing harness and gives an arm’s length of security. Visit www.rstor.co.uk for info. No matter how ‘safe’ you think your horse is, there just isn’t a horse born that you can guarantee 100% – it all depends on the circumstances!

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