Gymnastics

Real jumps!

Today was a glorious exercise in show-jumping gymnastics that went better than I expected.

About a week ago I lent Anne my copy of Jim Wofford’s Training The Three-Day Event Horse and Rider (an excellent book) and she suggested we work through some of the gymnastic exercises featured in one of the book’s appendices. I was totally on board, although a little doubtful of Gina’s ability to not lose her mind at the sight of poles and jumps all lined up.

from Training the Three-Day Event Horse & Rider

We settled on Course 2, scanned above. It’s a simple exercise that would force Gina to slow down, take her time, and hit the right distance. I knew it would be beneficial for me, too- I am often terrible about letting my horses launch a stride too early. 

A lack of standards and poles led us to eliminate fence 3 (the rail that would have made an oxer), and we used muck buckets for fences 1 and 2. We started with all poles on the ground. G warmed up nicely, very supple and forward. When we approached the first of the ground poles, she screeched to a halt and backed up several steps. I was surprised- she’d be very good with ground poles for weeks. I think she was put off by how many there were and this was her way of saying “You really want to do this?” I circled her around and very firmly told her with my legs “YES.” And off she went, extending nicely over the poles. We repeated the exercise a few more times, until I felt confident she was feeling good about the whole thing. Anne raised fence 1 to a half-crossrail; one side of the pole was propped up on a muck bucket. We trotted through this without any trouble, and she raised the other half. Apparently G didn’t feel great about staring down an 18″ vertical, so she trotted through the poles and ducked out at the fence. I circled her back around and she hopped over it kind of awkwardly. We went through again and she got the timing dead on! Feeling lucky, I had Anne put fence 2 completely up and sent G through the exercise. She took an ugly jump, but got over it. We tried it again and it went perfectly. 
I was very pleased with her performance today. Despite a couple of naughty refusals, Gina was extremely pleasant and seemed very pleased with herself at jumping two real verticals. I was happiest with her behavior after the second jump. She landed in a big, extended canter, but came back to a happy collected trot as soon as I sat back and asked. Anne commented that all the dressage work had really helped both of us, and I couldn’t agree more. (Anne should be smug; it’s all her work that’s helped us with dressage.) 
Anne and I plan to work through more of Wofford’s courses in the coming weeks and months. I’m looking forward to it!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

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