This simple exercise is one international show jumper William Whitaker uses regularly to develop his horses’ straightness and rhythm. Here he explains how to ride it. You can use his handy diagram as a guide.
“Working through a triple combination with guide poles is a great way to focus on your horse’s straightness and rhythm,” says William.
How to ride it
“Set up three uprights (10m apart), then put two poles on the floor parallel to one another approximately 3m apart, or wider if your horse is spooky or young. Do this throughout the grid, to create a tunnel effect (see diagram right).
“The distance I’ve suggested of 10m between jumps is set for large horses, so you may need to adjust this if yours is finding it long. The poles on the ground will help guide your horse and teach him to stay straight before, over and after the jump – a vital skill when jumping in competitions. Start with the fences quite small, but make sure you ride in a good canter rhythm. “
The next steps
“Once you’re confidently riding down the line of fences in an even rhythm and staying straight you can make the fences bigger. Remember to repeat the exercise an equal amount of times on the left and right rein. As your horse becomes comfortable with this, and starts to find it easy, you can increase the difficulty by changing one of the verticals to a parallel fence.”
More about our expert
William Whitaker is based in West Yorkshire, and rides and produces young horses up to Grand Prix level, with the help of his two brothers. As part of the famous Whitaker family he’s no stranger to winning, representing Britain on many occasions. Find out more about him and his team at www.williamwhitaker.co.uk