Jump to it – top tips and exercises for winter schooling.

With Christmas just around the corner that means one thing…no not just lots of presents but time off work and school! You can ride during daylight hours and make the most of some one on one time with your horse or pony.

We have some great jumping exercises here for you to work on during the Christmas holidays. Just because the event season has ended and the outdoor local shows are not running, it doesn’t mean you should stop too! Winter is a great time to stay focused and have a plan. Book some lessons, hold practice sessions with friends or clinics perhaps.

Glorious Grids

Grid work is great for both horses and riders. It helps to improve rhythm, balance and coordination. Gridwork is a great way to work on your horses agility and accuracy. The rider can benefit as they can work on position and balance over a fence. Gridwork helps to develop any eye for distances and allows the rider to focus on straightness and regularity into fences.

Start with poles on the ground; trot poles progressing to canter poles. Work equally on both reins. It is advisable to set your grid up on the centre line so you can work off both reins without having to keep changing fences or poles. Build your grid up from back to front. This will allow you to keep progressing through the poles to the fence(s). Vary your distances with one or two non jumping strides, or even a bounce. Always have the first fence in the grid set as a cross pole to encourage a central approach. This helps to get the riders eye in.

We have had some great contributions from our social media followers. Some of our contributors are listed below with their own ideas and exercises for you to try. Don’t forget to follow them on socials and check out their profiles for great pictures, giveaways and more!

Instagram contributors

That.sassy.poneh regularly jumps her conemara, always varying the exercises and types of fence. This keeps them both fresh and on the ball with their jumping.

“Gridwork, Gridwork and Gridwork” says Instagram follower lucie_e.q. “This helps to work on picking a horse up. Try a bounce to a one stride, to another bounce to an oxer, to a small one stride cross pole. I have a really flat jumper and this exercise helps”.

pony_nuts says “Gridwork and polework without stirrups! Bounces, dog legs, related distances – these are all great exercises”.

mr.tom.cob says “One jumping exercise i do with my cob is cross pole, canter pole, cross pole and then build this up to make three cross poles and then increase the height”.

Related Distance Exercises

Set up a cross pole as you come down the centre line. Walk a related distance stride and place another cross pole on the centre line. Also then place angled cross poles to either side of the centre line fence. This will give you three options once you come over jump number one; straight, left or right. Have a helper call one of the three options out to you as you turn to come down the centre line for your first fence. This way you have to use quick thinking and be looking up and ahead for your next fence. You can also work with strides on this exercise to shorten or lengthen between the fences.

Course Practice

Set up a small course in your arena and take some time to practice riding a course, aiming for clear and checking your lines and turns. Then select some fences for your jump off and work on turns, quick times etc. Practice makes perfect and the more times you can ride around a course, the more it will become less scary for competitions! Vary the fences, with uprights, spreads, oxers etc. Use cones and fillers to brighten the fences up. Even teddy bears on the wings can help desensitise a horse to bright colourful fences!

Have fun this winter and why not let us know your top tips for jumping exercises – we would love to hear your comments and see your pictures and videos!

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