Eventer Piggy March uses this warm up routine with most of her horses. It tests their focus and gets them using their brain, as well as encouraging a good shape over fences too.

Fence 1: Cross-pole

This type of fence is always a good choice as your first fence to jump. It’s nice and inviting and the shape of it helps you ride a straight approach.

How to ride it

  1. It can be wise to approach in trot to begin with, especially if you’re on a young horse. It gives him a chance to work out what you’re asking him to do.
  2. You only need to jump this type of fence a few times, until your horse is jumping it quietly and confidently.
  3. Focus on having a straight approach and maintaining a rhythmical canter.

Fence 2: Vertical

Progressing on from your simple cross-pole, build an upright fence with a ground pole a little way out to make the jump look inviting, which will give your horse confidence.

How to ride it

  1. Approach the fence in canter.
  2. Keep your horse straight and aim for the middle of the jump.
  3. Keep your chin up, riding positively from your leg into an even contact down both reins.
  4. Jump this fence a few times, before increasing the height by a couple of holes until it’s the same as in your class.

Fence 3: Oxer

Start off fairly small, with the front rail a little lower than the back rail. Position a ground pole so it gives the feel of jumping a triple bar fence. This will encourage your horse to get in the air and to reach for the back rail.

How to ride it

  1. Jump this a few times, increasing the height and width until it’s at the height you’ll be jumping in the ring.
  2. Square the oxer up in front and move the ground pole in so it’s a more vertical fence.
  3. You’re simply changing the look of the oxer so keep the way you approach it the same, making sure you have a good canter rhythm. Then leave the rest of the thinking to your horse.

Fence 4: Vertical

To finish, go back to a vertical fence but roll the ground pole in or put it up onto some cups so that you have a very upright vertical which isn’t quite as inviting.

Meet the expert: Piggy March is a 5* eventer. She won Badminton Horse Trials in 2019 and won team gold and individual silver at the 2021 FEI European Eventing Championships. 

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