If you want to master jumping into water, your best bet is to call on an international event rider. Here, Irish eventer Jonty Evans shares his tips.

“Your horse needs to be totally comfortable in water, so spend time building up their confidence. It might take several weeks or months,” says Jonty. “They need to trust that their feet will be secure. Practise in every type of water you can.

“Whilst schooling your horse cross-country, get them used to walking through water. When I’m riding a young horse, I trot circles in water without coming out and then I teach them to canter through. The time that you’ll trot through water in a horse’s career are very few. I don’t want to jump into water in the future, look to a skinny and find that they’ve broken to trot.

“I then introduce a small step. I’d often go back to walk, teaching them to move up and down the step into the water. It stops them launching and frightening themselves. It’s important to repeat this until they’re relaxed, walking in a four-time beat.

“When you’re both happy, you can try the same in canter. Don’t be afraid to revert back to walk if needed but you should avoid trotting. I hate trotting horses off steps – I’ve seen lots half commit and scrape the back of their legs and then it takes them ages to regain their confidence.

“Another thing is your position. Make sure that you’re in balance, as it’ll give both you and your horse huge confidence.”

Meet the expert: Jonty Evans rode for Ireland in the 2016 Rio Olympics aboard Cooley Rorkes Drift (’Art’), finishing eighth as a team member and ninth individually. In 2018, he sustained a serious brain injury in a fall at Tattersalls and was unconscious for six weeks before spending time in a specialist neurological unit. He returned to competition in August 2019, and now competes and trains from his Gloucestershire base.

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