Now that Autumn is just about here, it is time for many equestrian enthusiasts to enjoy some indoor show jumping training and competition. Jenny Richardson BHSAI, our Equestrian Centre Business Manage, shares her top tips!
We welcome many riders here at Castle Leslie Estate for autumn and winter show jumping practice and training. Jumping indoors for some horse and rider combinations can provide somewhat of a challenge! The space is often much tighter, and often, spooky horses find the indoor environment more intimidating. It almost always takes riders by surprise, when they first compete or even attend a clinic indoors, and have to contend with smaller warm-up spaces, and tighter turns. So coming to a venue like ours, with our experienced horses and massive indoor arena, can really help boost rider confidence and get used to indoor riding again after our glorious summer!
Learning to jump well in at an indoor venue is all about making the most of the space you have, and that means that your horse must be super-responsive to your aids. Straightness is key, as if your horse drifts or is spooked by fences or banners, it is harder to stay on course when the fences are coming up quickly.
Practice makes perfect
Working on straightness at home can be a great place to start. Why not start with a grid of cross poles at whatever height is applicable to you and your horse, and focus on jumping exactly in the centre of the fence? Sounds simple, but using a cross pole is a great way to give your horse a clear message of where to jump; and as a rider, you can assess your position to be sure that you stay straight in your own position during take-off, over the fence and also in the descent, so you don’t influence the horse’s ability to be straight by being crooked! Remember, practice makes perfect. Once this is established, set up some ground poles before and after the fence, encouraging your horse to stay straight in the approach and get-away.
Practice moving up and down the gears, e.g. getting ten canter strides down the long side of the arena, and then eleven, and then nine.
A great tool is being able to make sharp walk to canter transitions, and also canter to walk – this is especially useful in a busy warm up area. Practice at home utilising shapes like serpentines and circles, or using a dressage marker as your ‘target’ spot to make the upward or downward transition at.
On show days, when you arrive at a competition, make sure you have always got sufficient time to walk the course. Take in everything your horse may see, such as advertising banners, flowerpots and the judge’s box, which could be distracting, especially for young horses or one that hasn’t jumped indoors for a while. Riders should walk the course as they plan to ride it, taking note of any areas where they can make up time, or take a short-cut.
Be sure to know your distances; it is all the more important when there is less space! One horse’s canter stride is around 9ft, so work out how to pace out your own horse’s stride back home in your own arena, with an assistant or trainer if necessary. Nine feet works out at four modest human strides, or three longer, more exaggerated human strides.
Finally, remember to have fun and enjoy the autumn and winter show jumping circuit! (Don’t forget to consider an autumn break here at Castle Leslie Estate, to hone your show jumping skills.)
Castle Leslie Estate is a venue that offers a range of luxurious equestrian holidays, including flatwork and jumping breaks, in the heart of Ireland. Click here to view our array of equestrian packages.
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