By Castle Leslie’s Jenny Richardson
As a trainer I believe that most eventers are very confident in their cross-country phase, and well established in the dressage section, but when it comes to the show jumping round, this is where we often see mistakes; partly because this is the final part, the climax and ultimately will decide the result, so pressure plays a huge part; along with our fear that the poles fall down very easily, unlike the cross-country jumps!
“Don’t worry about the way others ride”
It is very important to train ourselves to stay focussed and keep our minds under control in the SJ round. The most common error is to think too quickly, resulting in upping the pace, perhaps without realising, and therefore the horse may not make good shapes over the fences, but run a little and flatten his bascule. If we are able to ‘think slow’ amidst everything around us, it will give us the edge to assess the situation and react to it rationally.
It is also important to know your own horse, and not to worry what others do in the ring, whether it be the number of strides in a distance or the line to the jump.
Don’t worry about the way others ride; consider only the best way to conduct your own round according to how you have trained together and perfected as a partnership, over time.
Showjumping is an accuracy test
We are aiming to maintain a collected canter throughout the showjumping course, and to wait for the jumps to come to us. A simple arena exercise is to place three canter poles approx. 3 – 3.5 metres apart in front of a fence, to ensure we maintain our rhythm and let the horse ‘use himself’. Where possible’ you can build two or three fences in this manner’ and string them together as part of a course. If your horse rushes over the poles, you can raise them slightly to become bounces, which will help to slow him down and encourage him to use his hocks, rather than rushing on the forehand. Leaving the poles in place in the showjumping phase is best attained by remembering that this is an accuracy test just as much as the dressage.
A good technique to train the horse to respect poles is to train over raised trotting poles using low blocks (or whatever similar, suitable arena equipment you have to hand); the aim of the exercise being to get him to stretch his head and neck long and low, and pick his feet up; this should help produce an obedient and careful horse.
Perfect a warm up routine tailored to your partnership; remember that it is just a preparation for what is to come, so take time to establish your flatwork before beginning to jump and get him to relax and listen to what you are asking.
It is important not to jump too high or too many times, as you must enter the ring at peak point to perform at your best. If show jumping is your weakest phase, make a point of including some jumping shows in between your eventing schedule and secure some private lessons from a professional!
If you are in need of a targeted training break, why not consider a trip to Ireland?
We welcome riders of all abilities to our beautiful Irish venue here at Castle Leslie – check out www.castleleslie.com, for information. Our ‘Horse Sport’ packages are always popular with eventers and showjumpers!
(Three day sport horse package = £836 inc tuition.)