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!


January Ultimate Exercise – “The Curve Ball”

Welcome to our Last exercise of the month, how time flew!! From the reaction from all you guys loving & sharing our exercises over the last 3 weeks, I feel like it would be quite rude not to keep carrying them out into February… What do you guys think?

This week was a difficult one, I had an exercise all set up to go & well it failed miserably! Dante couldn’t get the hang of it & well to be honest I lost the plot & gave up. This is ok. Sometimes I find myself maybe pushing Dante & myself too far with some exercises, so I took a step back & evaluated the situation.

Which brought me to this weeks actual exercise, and YES it is all about jumping!! How many of your faces have lit up reading that? Of course, I have tried to use what we have been doing in previous exercises and tied it into this one, keep scrolling to see what I have in store!

What You Will Need?

You will need an arena, or a field as always. There is a bit more set up this week, which will require you to have 3 x sets of wings & 9 poles.

Alternatively, if you dont have wings, blocks or barrels can be used in place to create your jumps! I kept the height to 80/90cm, with the fence in the centre at 90/1m. Adjust these to best suit your horse & their ability. Keeping in mind that they don’t need to be big fences.

I have the set up in the diagram below. For each fence, I have put a ground pole on either side. This will allow me to approach the fences from both directions.

The Curve Ball Exercise

What Is this Exercise Good For?

  • Maintaining a collected canter
  • Balance
  • Perfecting tricky lines into fences
  • Flexing your horse around your leg

How To Ride This Exercise?

  • This exercise was one of my favourites. When I got to the end & managed to get the hang of it, I could easily of spend hours perfecting this exercise.
  • Begin by warming your horse up as usual. This week for my warm up, I focused more on holding Dante together on the short side for a collected trot & pushing him out for an extended trot on the long side, the same in the canter (this proved quite difficult & needs some work!)
  • I also began to incorporate, 15m circles in canter, encouraging Dante to hold himself together better in smaller spaces. Once you begin this exercise, having a collected bouncy canter will be what you aim for, giving you more control on your approach and as you land around the bends.
  • Once you are satisfied with your warm up, begin by jumping each jump section by section. See Diagrams below.
  • When you are happy with how your horse is approaching both fences, making sure there is no rushing after or towards the fence, you can then begin to piece this “curve ball” together.
  • Try to keep your bends as smooth as you can, & remember to use as much of the arena as you wish to give your horse more space.
  • On my approach to the first fence, you may have noticed from the video our Instagram, that I didn’t approach either fence bang on centre. If I was to do this my curve to the second fence would be rather sharp, so try approaching your fence at an angle, this will help set you up nicely for your second fence. See Diagram below.
Piece part 1 & 2 together to create your “Curve Ball”
  • Once you are happy with how your horse is jumping over the two angled fences, then you can add in the last section of the exercise.
  • This is where your practice of your 15m canter circles comes into play. Landing after your second fence, you are aiming to land, circling into your fence down your centre line. As you approach your fence, aim to keep your horse collected & balanced in the canter. See Diagram Below for Final Layout
Piece the entire exercise together
  • Dante found this quite challenging as he got himself used to bending and flowing through his corners in the canter, to then having to hold himself together on the straight, a lot of leg was needed to keep his canter flowing & from stopping him from breaking.
  • Again, once you have jumped this exercise off both reins, & are happy with your finish, finish up on that good note. Don’t over do it if your horse is finding the bends difficult, I know Dante found it harder on one rein over the other!

And there you have it, our final January “Ultimate Exercise!”. I wont lie to you all, finishing with a jumping exercise was ideal, this is where I excel most, and well who doesn’t love a good jump!

I have been pleasantly surprised with Dante’s progress over these last few weeks with the exercises. I think it is something I may continue to do, not only for you guys, but for myself also, each week it gave me something to focus on, picking aspects of my training to focus on and perfect. Dante has slowly began to perfect his flying changes, the focus point of most of our exercises, which has helped us massively with jumping a course of fences!

What was your favourite exercise of the series? And what would you like to see us tackle next? I wreakon a few of you are wondering what the original exercise I scrapped at the beginning was to?!

Keep your eyes peeled for more!

Until Next Time,


August Monthly Exercise #1 – Working on Tight Turns

I know, I know don’t kill us, it has been quite some time since we did our monthly exercise. But don’t worry, we’re going to make up for it as we have decided to treat you to 4 exercises in the month of August!

To kick off the first of our August Monthly Exercises, we decided to start with an exercise we found through EquineTuition on Instagram. This is a great account to follow if you’re looking for something different to try with your horse.

What is this exercise good for?

We’ve been doing quite a good bit of jumping recently, with both of us moving up in the heights, so it was great to do an exercise that made us focus on the more technical side of jumping for a change. This was a great exercise to get us working on tightening up those turns after a fence.

The Set Up:

You will need 4 sets of wings, and 8 poles. We set all fences to small verticals at 60cm to begin with. Height doesn’t really play a part in this exercise, but if you wish to increase it as the exercise progresses and if your horse wants more of a challenge then go for it!

See the diagram for the layout in the arena.

Photo Credit: @EquineTuition

How to Ride it:

This exercise should be ridden as follows:

  1. Starting on the left right, go down over your related distance
  2. After the second jump, ride to the jump closest to you on the diagonal closest making sure to turn right on landing and loop back around to your related distance. Make sure you’re ready for this turn by sitting up on landing and ensuring to land on the correct lead.
  3. Go back down over your related distance on the right rein
  4. Ride to the jump on the diagonal to your right and land on the left rein, again making sure to prepare for the turn by sitting up on landing

So that’s how you’re supposed to ride it but we ended up having so much more fun with this layout.

With the placement of the jumps you can pretty much take whatever line you like to any of the fences. We played around with coming off the fence into the diagonals, popping from fence to fence on the dogleg and combining it altogether to make a mini course.

The distances between the jumps makes it easy to make a last minute decision on which jump you’re going to take which is a great way of testing your horse’s listening skills.

The Verdict:

This was by far an extremely fun exercise, it was great seeing both horse sit back & wait for direction from their riders, whereas a few months ago we both would of battled to get them to listen to us let alone slow down taking those tight turns.

We would highly recommend this exercise for jump off practice, we’d recommend keeping the jumps more on the small side. There’s no need to have them at mad crazy heights – keeping a controlled pace & steady rhythm is everything you need to be looking for in this exercise.


Give it a go and let us know how you got on! Be sure to check out Instagram for our videos of us giving this a go!

Thanks for reading, & keep an eye out next Sunday for our next instalment,

Darielle & Orla

Lessons with Coco ~ Rhythm & Bounce

After Coco injured herself, we were out of action for a good 3 weeks before I started to bring her back into work. She came back in great form and surprisingly not very fresh which I was grateful for. We took it easy the first week to make sure she was sound but then I wanted to start working on getting us back to where we were. I popped her over a few fences once or twice and realised we had gotten quite rusty so I decided it was time for another lesson.Lessons with Coco ~ Rhythm & Bounce

The morning of our lesson Coco was feeling super fresh. I had gotten her clipped the day before so I guess she was feeling the winter air. I spent the first 15 minutes trying to get the freshness out of her as she had gone into bronco-mode. She did settle after a while but she was absolutely buzzing. As annoying as her freshness can be, it was fun riding her through it. It’s one of those quirks that makes Coco, Coco.

The Square

Once Coco was relatively settled we moved onto the exercise of the day. Using poles, Sue set up a square on the ground (see pic below). Starting on the left rein go down over the poles and go left to turn back and go over the other side, turn left again to go up over the poles and then left again to turn back over the other side.

This exercise is great for working on a number of different areas:

  • The poles are treated like canter poles so it helps both horse and rider learn how to see a stride.
  • The turn back to the next set of poles helps your horse learn how to balance themselves so they can take on tighter turns in a course.
  • Finally, in order to do the exercise well you need to achieve a consistent and steady rhythm to ensure you meet the poles correctly every time, so it really helps you get a feel for your horses stride.


This was exactly the kind of exercise I needed to help me get back in tune with Coco. It also really showed us which rein is Coco’s weakest (the right rein). On the turns Coco would drop her inside shoulder which resulted in her losing balance and tripping over herself. The way to fix this was to lift my inside had to hold her up and help her balance herself properly. After a few attempts on each rein we eventually started to complete the exercise successfully in a nice rhythm.


Next it was time to add in the jumps. This was Coco’s first time ever doing a bounce. I had been wanting to try them on her for a while so I was looking forward to finally giving it a go. Sue set up the jumps on one of the lines. I popped Coco over it once or twice before trying the whole exercise together. We had a few honest pony’ moments but eventually we completed the exercise successfully with the jumps included. 


For the last 15 minutes of the lesson we put Coco through the bounce a few times and played around with the height. We tried the bounce with the two fences at around 80cms and then we dropped the first fence and gradually pushed the height of the second part up. We ended the session with the second fence at 1m20 giving me and Coco a new height record! It was incredible how easy she found it.

Needless to say I left the lesson absolutely beaming and with my confidence well and truly restored after our break. Now looking forward to getting out to some shows 🙂 

Orla & Coco