A Bunch of Jumpy Jumps – February Exercise 2

This week I am going to introduce you to a jumping exercise! It did not originally start out like the layout below, but with some great arena help my original grid progressed into quite an interesting workout not only for Dante but for me too. I keep my jumping to twice a week, alternating between grid work and related distance work for the meantime, I certainly killed two birds with one stone with this exercise!

Keep scrolling below to see the layout and “how to” on this weeks exercise.

The Set Up

For this exercise, see the set image below. It can be used as a flat work exercise or a canter pole exercise if you wish, for the brave I suggest you introduce some jumps to the mix! The distances are on the image below, please also take not that the poles without any triangles beside them, were not jumps! I like to keep a variety.

As always, the set up below is made for a horse, measurements may need to be adjusted for smaller horses or ponies. I would 100% recommend having someone on the ground to assist with adjustments for this exercise.

How To Ride This Exercise

  1. As always, I advise that a good warm up is done prior to partaking in any of our exercises. For this exercise I focused on having a forward moving canter in my warm up, keeping an even rhythm around the arena, as this is what I will be looking to translate into this exercise.
  2. This exercise can be ridden in sections first before progressing to the entire exercise. I began firstly by tackling the grid. This is set up with trot poles on approach followed with one stride of canter between each fence. The aim here was to land on the correct lead and to keep a forward even rhythm in the canter as Dante landed. To put it simply no breaking into trot or not taking off in excitement after the second fence.
  3. There were a few times when he was landing incorrectly, this is when the pole at figure number 2 came in handy, and helped assist as the course progressed on. I used this pole as a base for a lead change across the diagonal.
  4. This in turn then set me up perfectly to continue on to ride my related distance. Marked number 3 & 4 in the image below. Here we ran into some rushing problems between the fences. It was a four stride, and there were times we were getting 3… Sitting up tall after the first fence and wrapping my legs around him began to help as we done it a few times. I also found that the more I continued on with fences and poles and the less I brought him back to a walk, or a time out for me, the better he became at flowing easily through the exercises.
  5. Before I introduced the 5th section of the exercise in I wanted to make sure he was travelling more smoothly over part 3 & 4. It was quite a sharp turn into number 5 with yet another lead change as we landed.
  6. Once I was happy with all parts of the exercise, it was time to finally piece it all together. I get fidgety and flappy though corner and in between fences, so this was the aim here to basically sit on Dante and let him travel to the fences, no rider interference! It improved a lot as I rode it a few times, but this is an exercise that I will definitely be doing again, the variety kept Dante always thinking and the sudden turns and changes made me the rider really concentrate.
  7. To test yourself even more as you familiarise yourself with this exercise, after you come over fence number 5, transition down to trot and bring your horse over the grid again, see if your horse really listens and reacts to your direction!

The Benefits of The Exercise

  • Improves your horses canter and adjustability
  • Sharpens up your leg changing aids
  • Stops your horse from Rushing
  • Improves co-ordination

Remember to always finish an exercise with your horse on a good, positive note. Once you are happy with how your horse rode this exercise, finish up, I always tend to leave the exercise up for 2/3 days in the arena and visit it again to see how we have progressed from the first attempt!

I love a good technical jumping session, and now with shows coming back into action over the next few weeks this will certainly keep you and your horse on your toes ahead of entering the show ring!

Be sure to give it a go for yourself & do tag me in any videos you take of you doing this exercise!

Darielle

June Jumping Exercise – The Saucy Snake

Keeping things interesting, we pieced together this saucy little exercise! Incorporating some jumping while still keeping it quite technical. It gave both horse & rider some great results.

With the riding festival coming up this weekend, this is a great exercise to brush up on your tight turns, approach to fences and landing on the correct lead. Coco managed it tremendously well & well Dante ended up in abandonment after a fight broke loose!

Keep reading to find out what This “Saucy Snake” is all about!! 

The Set Up

You will need an arena or an open field to begin with, for set up you will need 4 sets of wings, 4 sets of cups & 11 poles. For the set up we kept all fences small, all standing at approx 50cm.  

The distance between the jump & the poles were measured with 10 generous footsteps either side. No striding was measured between the last two jumps. This is where your eye for a stride comes in to play!

 See below the diagram for how your arena should look. Be sure to clear out everything else in the arena as you will need all the space you can get especially if you have a bigger horse! 

What is The Exercise Good For? 

  • Letting your horse figure out the approach to a fence
  • Position over a fence
  • Maintaining a rhythm & keeping it consistant
  • Great practice for tight turns

Step By Step Guide On How To Ride This Exercise

1. As always, begin this exercise with a good warm up for your horse. Focus mainly on the canter, keeping it alive, active & bouncy. Once you are happy with your horse, that they are responding well to your aids then can you begin to piece together the Saucy Snake! 

2. Not to overwhelm yourself, or your horse, start this exercises by doing everything section by section. Starting with the image below, do this off either rein until you are happy that your horse is approaching the fence correctly & landing afterwards at ease, staying relaxed in the canter. 

3. Keep the jumps small, the aim of this exercises is to ride each part as if they are ground poles or canter poles. Your position over the small fence in the middle does not need to be dramatic, focus more on keeping a consistant contact the whole way through.

4. Once you feel comfortable with your horse’s approach, begin to piece more of The Saucy Snake together. Starting on a bend & moving over your diagonal, we found that this proved to be the most tricky line throughout the exercise. Riding Across the diagonal gives your horse more space to run, so sitting back and keeping your leg on, your horse held together & balanced is vital. Also looking up & around your arena. Looking down at the poles will not only cause your horse to run into them, but it will throw your horse off balance with you looking down over their shoulder!

5. Finally piecing the entire exercise together, the main focus is your canter, you need to keep it actively moving forward, energy behind but controlled (we don’t ask for much!) Begin the exercises as per the image below, starting at your curve, moving down the diagonal & then curving to the right finishing over your vertical on the long side. Sitting up & looking to where you are going is very important. Remember once you reach that first ground pole, your job as the rider is done until you reach the first stride when you land after the second ground pole.

6. Try to focus on using your body to direct your horse, with the aid of your legs, keep your hands quiet throughout the exercise. Remembering to look up look up look up!!! Opening your shoulders around the corners in the direction you are turning your horse also really helps.


This exercise proved to be quite difficult for Dante. I have managed to create a fear of turning right, when it comes to jumping & landing to the right, it is something I am working on, but Dante, being Dante takes every chance he can to gain that control. We didn’t manage to finish this exercise fully, due to his bad behaviour but Coco aced it. 

This exercise is definitely one I will be incorporating into my weekly routine, it really opens your eyes to the way you use your body around the course, and the control you really need in between fences!

Head over to our Instagram page to check out a video of coco smashing this exercise!

Let us know how you get on with this exercise, leave your thought & comments below & be sure to tag us in any videos of you giving it a test drive! 

Until next time, 

Darielle 

August Monthly Exercise #4 – Achieving a Rhythm

Well its our final August Monthly exercise and I have to say, I’m kind of sad to see this month end. To finish off, we decided again to ask our followers what they wanted to see and once again jumping won out (I’m starting to see a trend here). So the exercise we went with is a fun one that can, as usual, be ridden just on the flat. Check it out and be sure to let us know if you give it a go yourself.

What is this exercise good for?

  • Maintaining a rhythm 
  • Landing on the correct lead
  • Teaching your horse to listen and wait
  • Developing the rider’s eye for a stride

How to Set it Up?

August-Monthly-Exercise

For this exercise you’ll need 14 poles and 14 wings. I used the letters of the arena to help position each jump. I put the jump in the middle at X, between B and E, and a jump at both A and C. From there you can find your placing for your remaining fences. See the image for reference.

How to Ride It

The best way to ride this exercise is to start from the ground up. Keep everything but the jump at X as poles on the ground to begin with until you and your horse get to grips with the layout.

  1. Starting over the middle jump, ride a circle left to the poles at A and finish off the circle over the middle jump
  2. Next add in the set of poles on the circle after the poles at A so you do all 3 together. 
  3. Finally add in the set of poles after the middle jump. At this point you should be doing a full circle with all four sets poles.
  4. Repeat this process on the other circle.
  5. Once you’re happy with how your horse rides both circles with all fences, raise all the poles to jumps. I definitely recommend keeping them small, no higher than 70cm as, depending on the size of your arena, you could be doing some pretty tight turns.

The most important thing you need to do this exercise well is a good, even rhythm. And what makes this exercise so great is that with the jumps placed as they are, if your horse starts anticipating the circles and getting lazy (which is what happened with Coco), you can mix it up by jumping a combination of different fences off different reins. This makes your horse sit and wait for you to tell them what they’re doing, instead of them trying to guess it.


Speaking for both myself and Darielle, we really enjoyed coming up with some fun new exercises to try out this month and its been great seeing some of our followers giving them a go for themselves. Next month we’ll be back to our normal Monthly Exercise format so be sure to keep an eye out for that!

As always, thanks for reading!

Orla