Training your horse over a bounce fence will improve your accuracy and control, as well as your horse’s athletic ability.
Here, author and trainer Carol Mailer explains how to ride a bounce fence with your horse.
“The aim of the bounce exercise, or pat ‘n’ push as I like to call it, is to ask your horse to ‘pat’ the ground with his front legs in between the bounce jumps and then ‘push’ upwards strongly with his hind legs,” says Carol.
How to ride a bounce
Place two cross-poles on the long side of your arena or paddock, with a distance between the fences of 3.7m (12ft) for horses.
By using cross-poles, it means you can jump the combination on both reins, so developing your horse’s muscles evenly.
Ride from your leg into a supporting contact to produce an active canter, which should be forward, not fast.
From the corner, and on your approach to the fence, ride with confidence and keep your horse’s energy up on the turn, maintaining this power as your straighten him.
Ride a straight line to the bounce, aiming for the centre of each cross-pole, as any steering malfunctions could encourage your horse to run out the side door.
As your horse bascules the first jump (this is the arc shape he’ll make over the fence), try to hover a second longer in your jumping position, as anticipating the landing early could mean he puts his front end down sooner, rubbing a pole with his hind legs on the ‘out’ stage.
On landing, it’s not the actual position of the front feet on the landing ‘pat’ that you need to worry about, it’s the power and energy required for the ‘push’ that you must strive for, as this is what will help you clear the second jump.
That’s why you always push with your leg at take off and look up.
Once you’ve jumped in one direction, always repeat the exercise on the other rein, and only when both you and your horse are confident can you add a further bounce to the grid.