This exercise uses two poles on the ground, set out in a straight line on a random distance.
There's no need to stride out a distance as you're going to vary your horse's canter stride between each pole.
This exercise is a great and fun way to teach your horse to shorten and lengthen his canter stride. It also helps you keep your horse between hand and leg, while still having a good quality canter, which will improve his balance too.
Watch Piggy ride this exercise on Cooley Monsoon (who's owned by Jennifer Saunders).
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Event rider Piggy French reveals why rhythm and balance are vital for everything you do with your horse and how to improve them.Read More
If your horse struggles to maintain a steady rhythm in canter, try show jumper Mia Palles-Clark’s exercise to get him on time, every time.Read More
Eventer Nick Turner outlines the benefits of gridwork:
- It encourages your horse to be more reactive off your aids and make a better shape over fences
- It improves his rhythm over fences
- It helps you both to improve your balance
- Different fences and distances between fences teach him to lengthen and shorten his strides
- It enables you to be more aware of your position
- You’ll also become more aware of your horse’s straightness
- It helps you to ride fences more accurately
- It increases your confidence when jumping
- It also improves the suppleness of you and your horse
- It improves his bascule over fences
International eventer, John-Paul Sheffield, reveals his top exercises to beat common jumping problems…
Why the problem?
You and your horse may have problems with rushing due to…
• Over-excitability in the horse/rider.
• Lack of rhythm.
• The rider sends (drives) the horse into the fence.
How to help…
Maintaining a regular canter rhythm will help prevent all of the jumping problems mentioned in this article. Whatever your problem, start with this exercise because it will help you achieve the basis of which everything else is linked.
JP describes this exercise as the trunk of a tree. All the other exercises in this article branch off this exercise, but the roots of them all, come back to this place.
Place three or more poles about three (of your) strides apart in the centre of your school or jumping field.
Work around the poles to warm up and concentrate on keeping your pace nice and regular. In canter, come down the poles, giving yourself ample time to get your line straight on approach.
You’re aiming for your horse’s canter stride to fall exactly in the middle of each pole. Keep your horse between hand and leg over the poles; don’t be temped to rush or chase him.
JP says: “Some people get into the habit of checking the horse to shorten him before the poles/fence, then pushing him on, to lengthen his stride as he gets two/three strides away. Try to ignore the poles in this exercise, and instead, focus on where your horse’s stride falls. It helps to think of this exercise as practising for a dressage test, and then you mentally take yourself away from the jumping, to concentrate on the flatwork. Be precise and keep practising.”
If you want a shorter or longer stride you can move the poles as appropriate.
From here, you can add a jump to the end of the poles, but stick with the poles until you feel confident; the last thing you want to do is end up crashing through the jump as this can ruin all the good work you’ve done so far.
Remember to ride this exercise on both reins.
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.Read More