The value of grid work in training show jumpers


Photo by Thowra_uk

Every show jumper should use grid work in training. The benefits are enormous to both horse and rider. Just be sure to pitch the level of work you ask to the level of experience the horse and rider can reasonably do.

For the purposes of this blog I’m going to define grid work very broadly – from a related distance of two poles on the ground a series of obstacles in a line or in a circle on a related distance. Examples of given below of different exercises (although the distances are not given). Note that both these exercises are not for beginners.

So what are the benefits of grid work? They include:

  • Improving a riders balance
  • Improving the riders seat
  • Improving the horses technique e.g. sharpening it up in front, improving its bascule, helping it lengthen or shorten between fences
  • Improving the horse’s balance
  • Improving the horse and rider’s confidence
  • Allowing you to correct specific areas through specific exercises
  • Allowing you to practice straightness and riding through lines accurately
  • Teaching riders to ride with finesse and allowing the horses to jump without hindering them
  • Adding variety to training

In order to really benefit from grid work it’s important to:

  • Start slowly and correctly, and then build up the exercises
  • Make sure that your distances are correct!
  • Don’t overdo it. It’s hard work for the horse both mentally and physically
  • Have someone on the ground to assist or advise you. It not only helps with poles but it’s critical for advice on your position and how you ride the exercise. Remember if the rider is correct, the horse will be correct

If you found this interesting you may also want to read:

Jumping your horse in balance: 3 training exercises for the horse rider

Exercises at a walk with a show jumping pole to increase your horse’s flexibility and obedience

Circle grid work exercise for training a show jumper

“The blog is the personal opinion and views of the author. It contains general information and may contain inaccuracies. You should always seek the advice of a professional horse riding instructor on your own specific situation and circumstances.”

blog2

Horse training: What do you need to do to train a young horse to jump?


There is nothing quite like a young horse learning to jump. You can feel them “finding their feet” underneath you. Sometimes they give much larger leaps than are necessary over tiny poles. Other times they don’t pick up their legs. It’s just all part of the learning process. As riders we have the responsibility to:

1 – Help the horse stay relaxed and balanced into, over and after the obstacle

2 – Develop its best shape over the obstacle

3 – Stay and/or become increasingly confident over different obstacles

4 – Stay injury free

Training a horse to jump, specifically a young horse, means that the horse rider needs to ride with correct technique and method. We can assist our horses by:

1 – Riding in balance

2 – Riding with confidence

3 – Maintaining rhythm before and after each obstacle

4 – Not over facing the horse – that is taking things slowly

5 – Exposing the horse to a variety of obstacles

6 – Incorporating obstacles as part of regular work

I regard obstacles as show jumping poles on the ground, elevated poles, logs, etc. Working over poles on the ground a few times every time you ride is excellent for horses and riders. Do not over jump your horse. This can make your horse stale and lead to injury.

As we build our blog we will provide more details on how to achieve these aims. They will also give specific exercises.

“The blog is the personal opinion and views of the author. It contains general information and may contain inaccuracies. You should always seek the advice of a professional horse riding instructor on your own specific situation and circumstances.”

jumping

Exercises at a walk with a show jumping pole to increase your horse’s flexibility and obedience


Whether you are a show jumper or not, it’s really important for your horse to place its hooves exactly where you want them. The exercises below help:

  • You as a rider gain a better feel of where your horse is under you.
  • You as a rider gain a better feel of how your horse is moving under you.
  • Improve your ability to give clear aids.
  • Increase your horse’s obedience and flexibility.

The training exercises seem simple, but are quite difficult if you do them properly. Make sure that you are in the correct position and applying the correct aids. This includes:

  • Keep your hands as still as possible. Hold a neck strap if you need to, in order to neutralize your hands.
  • Look in the direction you are going to help get the turn you need.
  • Use your legs to help turn and maintain impulsion. The outside leg must be back and turn the horse. The inside leg must drive the horse forward. Keep your legs long and out take them out of the stirrups if you can.

Exercise 1

  1. Walk your horse in a figure of 8 over a show jumping pole on the ground
  2. Ensure that you cross the pole in the centre
  3. If your horse is young or not supple keep the circle large
  4. Else, make your circles as small as you can
  5. Identify which front leg is going over the pole without looking down.

Tips:

  1. Is one circle larger than the other? Is this the result of the horse’s stiffness or are you giving the aids differently on different sides?
  2. Are you leaning in or are you maintaining or balance?
  3. You should not be using your hands for the exercise. Your inside rein should be soft. You should be using your legs to turn your horse.

Exercise 2: Semi serpentine over a pole

  1. Do a shallow serpentine over a jumping pole one the ground.
  2. As your horse has walked stepped over the first part of the pole, use your legs to get your horse to step back over the pole
  3. Do the exercise again and again on each rein.
  4. Try and come back to the pole in the shorted turn possible. Remember to turn using your legs and eyes and not your hands.
  5. Are you able to tell when each leg is going over the pole? Are you able to control each leg?

(See the same tips and instructions for the exercise above).

“The blog is the personal opinion and views of the author. It contains general information and may contain inaccuracies. You should always seek the advice of a professional horse riding instructor on your own specific situation and circumstances.”