Lengthen your strides

By Carol Mailer

Riding advice

14 May 2012 16:53

Carol Mailer gives her advice on how to lengthen or shorten your strides between jumps.

Before you get too keen on jumping, think about improving the quality of the canter with a grid of poles on the ground. Used correctly, just a few canter poles will help you recognise how well you’re producing the nice up tempo forward stride you need to help your jumping.

If you’re going to compete then your horse will do better if you can produce a conventional length of stride with enough energy and power so he’ll be able to adjust his stride automatically.

Set the poles, at least five if you can manage it, 12ft apart. Use a tape and make sure the distance is identical all the way down your line. Guesswork and pacing is not always good enough.

Practise for 15 to 20 minutes every time you ride – this should be plenty of time for you to feel the amount of leg you need and the degree of contact required to produce the consistent stride which will enable your horse to shorten or lengthen when needed.

The poles will indicate immediately
if the canter has got too long as you will get closer and closer to them as you go down the grid. 

When you’re happy with the 12ft distance, you can increase it by inches at a time so you can feel how much more you need to push to lengthen. Then, conversely reduce the distance to help you recognise how much more contact you need to shorten. 

When you’re happy with the canter work, start to make the canter poles into jumps, starting with the last one in the line. Gradually, starting from the jump, remove the canter poles one by one but try to work as if they’re still there so the canter stays the same.

You will soon realise that, if you keep a good canter, he will meet the jump with power and energy. 


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