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
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“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.”