This month, I have been working on getting my horses to use their body more over the jump and working on my position to keep in balance over fences. I have been doing this using grid exercises with my horses to keep them balanced, straight and to engage their hind quarters.
The exercises I have been using are bounces and distances, with my favourite exercise being the bounces as they are fun, different and give your horse something to think about.
Depending on the stride length of your horse, for 15.2hh and above you should pace out 3 1/2 to 4 paces between each bounce jump (10-12 feet).
The idea of a bounce gird is to encourage your horse to land with their front feet over one fence then quickly pick up and take off over the next, just as their hind feet have touch the ground after the first.
In order to tackle these fences successfully, your horse has to be sharp in their shoulders, picking up their front legs neatly and also using the hind legs actively. This is a quick thinking exercise so more athleticism and power are needed.
Make sure your horse is comfortable jumping a grid and introduce them with two jumps in a bounce before adding more and it is sensible to restrict yourself to no more than 5 jumps in a gird. This is because the exercise is strenuous for the horse and they can tire easily, particularly if the fences are higher ( I wouldn't recommend going very high at all).
It is important that the rider keeps the horse balanced with plenty of impulsion to negotiate bounce fences- It also helps to improve the riders balance and suppleness too!
I do this exercise a couple of times a month, but not much more due the the strenuous nature of the exercise. However, it does have many benefits when done correctly and is something different for both the horse and rider to think about when jump training.
I hope you enjoyed and i'll see you next month!