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

A Survival Guide To Winter Riding – 7 Top Tips

If I had a euro for every time I heard an Equestrian say those dreaded lines, “the evenings are getting darker” or “Im not riding its raining” I would have myself a nice sum of money thats for sure!  Not many of us are fond of the winter weather, but unlike other hobbies us Equestrian put the head down and carry on with things no matter the consequence.

If Dante could mix his own feeds & exercise himself I’d let him at it…. But what if I told you there were a few tricks for some winter riding balance? Like getting the important things done but on a shorter schedule than normal..  

I have put together a list of 7 winter riding survival tips not only to shorten your time out in the cold but to also get some benefits to that dreaded winter riding….   

1. Lunging

When it comes to shortening up your evening in the yard one word comes to mind… LUNGING.

As much as we make ourselves think we want to ride 5 days a week in the Baltic weather conditions, who are we actually kidding? At least once a week I roll up to the yard forcing myself to brave the cold with Dante to only find myself hopping back in the car to go home!

Well this is your easy way out. If it’s just to stretch your horses legs or getting the freshness out of them after a few days off, lunging is simply perfect to implement into your winter riding routines. What better way to see progress than looking at your horse moving from the ground!

2. Variety

Most of us work 4-5 days a week. If you work any less than that and can still afford a horse please do look into giving me a job!! Daylight hours are so precious racing down to the yard on your day off to ride in normal light is a very rare occasion!

Recently I have tried to incorporate a weekly outing for Dante instead of running around the same arena we work in everyday. Why not try make it routine that you go out jumping in a winter league, or why not treat your horse to a walk on the beach?

Get yourself and your horse out of that yard (if you can!) it will only do you and your horse all the better, think of it as prep for all those spring summer shows, your horse will get used to travelling they will begin to enjoy the weekly treat of visiting somewhere new.

Make sure to also make use of every single indoor arena rental there is available to you!! God bless anyone with an indoor arena in this weather, spot the jealous Hun Over here…

3. Re-Evaluate your Training Schedule

There comes a time during the Winter, normally hits mid November when you start to think to yourself, why am I breaking my back trying to keep up with such a hardcore training session for my horse? Take a step back and think to yourself, are you competing regularly? Do U need to be training this hard?

I have decided to take a step back and cut my riding days down to 4 instead of 5. In doing this, I found that I put much more energy into getting good sessions over the 4 days rather than struggle to motivate myself over 5!

Don’t be hard on yourself, some weeks when I only ride twice & lunge twice, some weeks when I ride even less. But during each session I pick on one thing to focus on whether it be transitions on the lunge or having a consistent forward rhythmic canter on both reins whilst riding. These small things will make massive differences when you go to pick up a full routine in the Spring.

4. Make Use of What You Have

By this I don’t mean that you are limited to supplies whether it be wings poles or fillers etc. Who else hates pulling and dragging poles in the cold? GUILTY!

Just the other day I went to ride in the arena, when I arrived there was one pole. One pole laid out and yes I will admit I was way too lazy to get down, set something up and so on. The point in this is that I am pushing you to make do with what you have. Let your imagination run wild. Have fun in your training schedule, push the boundaries! Make winter a time to investigate the hidden talents your horse has!

Here’s a simple pole laid out in the arena, see below the many different exercises I done with it. See what I mean? Open your mind & start getting creative.

5. Give Your Horse A Break

Hands up who loves a winter city break? Well guess what…. if you deserve one, so does your horse. Give your horse a week off, a few days off here and there wont hurt either. Winter should be a time for them to recuperate, refresh & to evaluate what they have done and learned over the summer.

You would be surprised what a few days off can do to clear the head. You will have an eager, willing horse when they comes back into work.

This was taken back in September when rug weren’t needed!

6. Cooling Down your Horse Correctly

Its all fun and games riding that amazing training session, having your horse moving forward & working Fabulously only to realise that when you finish you don’t have the time to wait around for your horse too cool off correctly before rugging. Winter time also comes with the dreaded cooling off time…. never forget to schedule time for “THE SWEAT”!!!

Walking your horse around the arena after you ride helps cool them down quicker, a walker can also do this for you as you run around tidying up your bits! Be sure to put a cooler on your horse while there walking to avoid them getting a chill. When stabling be sure to remove the damp cooler and replace it with your heavy rug or stable rug when your putting your horse away for the night.

7. Dress Accordingly

Don’t be the hero. Or should I say don’t be that idiot roaming around in the next to nothing T-shirt in the -2 degrees frost bitten weather. I will not pity the cold or flu you get because going around not appropriately dressed to the weather is your own fault!!

Wearing my Zerofit Ultimate Base Layer

Grab your thermals, grab your base layers, winter is not pretty!! It’s hello rosy cheeks & numb fingers goooodbye bronzed skin & bingo wings… Wrap up well & look after yourself. Your limited enough when it comes to time in the saddle don’t let getting sick get in the way too! I always have a spare pair of gloves & socks at the yard incase I ever need them, be sure to do the same yourself, its a blessing in disguise!


And there you have it my 7 winter riding survival tips. Have I left out any important go to ones? Be sure to let me know.

We are based in Ireland, the temperate is currently 4degrees, with a non stop mixture rain or winds that are so cold they would cut you in half!

Do let us know your Winter tips in the comments below, I would love to hear about the fun secretive winter tricks you swear by in the winter aswell, the more the merrier!

As always, thanks you for reading & watch yourself in this weather, don’t be out there catching colds, Wrap up warm!!

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 

Small Fixes with Big Results – 8 Tips To Improve My Jumping

This post has been brewing for some time now! Over the last few months I wanted to pull together a post about where I currently stand with Dante’s jumping. The most annoying part about this post comes down to the fact that the things I have learned on my jumping journey come down to me the rider & my bad habits…

On a positive note, I have began to see a huge difference. From the way Dante collects himself, approaches fences & even lands afterwards, to how I as a rider ride him & position myself over fences I think we have really started to show progress.

Keep reading to find out what I have been doing to get to where I am know..

Flatwork

Without basic flatwork you have no foundations to work from. Jumping is not just about jumping a fence. Balance, rhythm, straightness, it all springs from your horses ability in his flatwork. I spend a lot of time at home working on transitions in walk, trot& canter. This not only gets Dante listening to me, but also help to engage his hind end.

The ability to lengthen & shorten your horses canter stride as well as pushing them forwards & holding them back is very important. This can all be practiced during your flatwork sessions, using the long side of your arena to lengthen & the short side to shorten up your horse. I am focusing on doing this using my body movements in the saddle.

Polework

When practicing for a jumping session, it does not necessarily mean you must jump. Sometimes doing pole-work, or jumping smaller fences can be more beneficial.

I find scattering poles around the arena, letting Dante approach them randomly helps him learn and appreciate me more as a directional giver. Basically he needs to wait & rely on me for where he is going rather that rushing off or tanking off across the arena doing his own thing.

Not only that but it will improve your eye for a stride & help establish your canter as you move over the poles. You will start to see yourself holding & pushing for the longer or shorter stride without even realising!

Jumping Position Over A Fence

This is something that needed some minor adjustments. From my 3 years of Dante, I have had a number of different instructors with nearly all of them having a different opinion on how I should ride his jump. To be fair they have all been extremely helpful, from everything I have learned there is nearly a bit of everyone’s advice in my jumping position, if that makes sense!

Firstly lets mention that no drastic hand throwing is needed. Something that needs practice to get rid of, I think we all fall victim to this at some stage of our riding. A common issue amongst a lot of equestrians, the “Throwing your hands half way up your neck” was certainly not one that worked for me. When it comes to jumping your horse you don’t necessarily need to throw your body or entire self at your horse whilst going over a fence. Your jumping position should be a natural movement, moving with the horses body giving them enough freedom to clear the fence comfortably.

Keep My Toes Pointed In

A terrible terrible trait of mine. Another habit to add to the list. I have a tendency to ride from the heel, in turn I point my toes out. Not only does it look horrific but it stems to a list of other problems such as constant leg on from my heel, which could be a reason behind Dante being dead to my leg at times. Riding with such pressure in my heels has effected my overall position, It has resulted in me gripping with my knees rather than with my lower leg & calf.

Fixing the problem is currently ongoing! Constant shouting to tell me turn my toes in really works when it comes to fixing this one. That and no stirrup work. Something I am neglecting… When I do start thought, this will help strengthen my calf & lower leg muscles & help with my overall position in the saddle.

“Your heals and lower leg are your seat belt. If they aren’t on there is not much keeping you in the saddle”- this quote I read recently really did make me feel better about my heel issue though, I cant be that bad!

Quiet Hands

Once you achieve the “Quiet hands” phase you will begin to see a lot of improvements in your riding. Don’t get me wrong, it is probably one of the most aggravating, tedious things to try & perfect, but time & patience is key. And trust between you & your horse!

Focus on riding with your hands out in front, in line with your hips. I tend to ride with quite open reins, the width of my hips also. I find this opens Dante in his movement. You are focusing on getting your horse to ride into your hands from your seat & your leg. Technically your hands are just there to establish a light contact to the horses mouth. Pulling the mouth off your horse is what you are aiming NOT to do.

You need to work your horse up into your hands, basically your legs do all the work here & after your first few days of focusing on this your legs will be dead!! But trust me.. it is worth it when you see the results you get.

Body Position

My Body has a mind of its own… if that makes any sense! Landing after a fence for a while became extremely troublesome, I put this fear of turning right into my head, and it did not look pretty.

Body position plays a massive role in how Dante lands correctly, I have the worst habit of leaning over his shoulder & looking down at the floor. I do this for a good 3-4 strides after a fence in the direction that he lands. Looking back on videos it is so horrific to watch. No wonder we were having such difficulties!!

My focus is to keep my body centered in the saddle!! Sitting up tall & keeping those shoulders back.

The Canter – Rhythm & Balance

You have nothing without a forward going canter . Dante’s canter work is coming along well but it still need loads of improvements. My main focus is getting his engine turned on, once I have that moving & activated,maintaining a forward canter is key, he is a divil for breaking into trot from his canter.

Once the ignition is turned on it makes jumping & maintaining a steady forward going pace much easier. Loads of focus on getting Dante moving from the leg is key. Maintaining an even rhythm whilst keeping Dante balanced in his canter is another thing that is improving, but still needs work. Lengthening & shortening his stride is so important, all whilst keeping a maintained rhythm & balanced canter, my work is really cut out for me over the next few weeks as I focus more on these points.

I try to get these reactions from using my seat & legs! Interfering to much with his mouth only results in him getting pissed off at me. I tend to hold on to his mouth as he moves forward in the canter, the fear of him bolting off always comes back to me! This is a fear I need to let go off, he isn’t that crazy 4 year old anymore.

Don’t Look At Your Fence

Look up, look up, look up!! Why do we just not listen to this? How many of us out there put the absolute fear into ourselves looking at fences we are about the jump, looking at the ground pole, or the scary filler as we approach instead of looking up and giving your horse direction as to where they are to go to next, well I am Guilty!!

Look up and & over your fence, basically looking to where you want your horse to go. I didn’t realise how much I looked at the jump until I started to focus and pay attention to certain aspects of my riding. Once you start looking up & not at the fence, the difference you will see, not only in your riding but in your approach to fences!

No wonder we knock so many !!


I have been focusing a lot on improving my position & my over all approach to jumping with Dante. The above of some of the main point I have been focusing on. And they have shown an overall massive improvement in our work together.

I will also like to mention that everyone should also invest in a neck strap for their horse! Everyone needs a Jesus Strap!! Expecting the unexpected with horses is something you should always anticipate, I still get reared & spun around at times.. you can never be too careful, & well sometimes when your grabbing the mane it tends to get pulled out….

I hope you enjoyed this post, let me know in the comments below if any of my tips will help you in your riding & be sure to keep an eye out for my next post, I will be running through my 5 top tips for riding the best Showjumping Round!

Until Next Time,

Darielle

April Jumping Exercise – Bounce It Bitch

Our Exercises are back!!

Our ever so popular exercises are making a comeback. What better way to jump back into the thriving summer season. First up is one of my all time favorites, Who doesn’t love a good pole jumping exercise, especially when it comes with so many good benefits.

One that can definitely be added to the training schedule. Scroll down to find out what to do & how to ride it.

The Set Up

You will need an arena, or a field. You will also need 2 sets of wings with an additional 7 ground poles.

As you will be riding this exercise in canter, you will need 3.5 large steps between the ground poles that are placed between your two fences. These measurements are made for Dante he is a large horse so if you are riding a pony they may need to be adjusted to 3 footsteps.

As per the image below, Set up two Vertical jumps either end of the exercise, these are marked with a blue X in the images below! I kept these jumps small enough, with the max height being 90cm.

See image below for arena set up!

What Is This Exercise Good For?

  • Helps with a Horse That rushes through combinations
  • Better Compulsion in The Canter
  • Getting your Horse To Listen & Pay Attention to you
  • Improves your eye for a stride
  • Builds Muscle on The Hind End

Step By Step Guide On How To Ride This Exercise

  1. Begin by warming your horse up as you normally would for any jumping exercise. I always focus on transition work with Dante. This gets Dante really listening to me & my leg aids. Once I have him listening I focus on pushing him forward & collecting him back in the canter on each rein. This really helps when it comes to pushing him for the stride that is needed or holding him back when riding certain jumping exercises.
  2. Start by Warming up firstly over a Cross pole or a small vertical seperate to this exercise. You dont want to overwhelm your horse by jumping straight into an exercise like this! When you are happy with how your horse is jumping, then you may begin.
  3. Approach the beginning of the exercise in a collected canter, you want to have a good bit of energy in the canter on your approach. Keeping a tight contact, be sure to always look up & down towards the end of the exercise. Never look down at the poles!
  4. If your horse has not done an exercise like this before, be prepared for them to look at the poles as they jump through, some may over exaggerate and leap over the poles, so be sure to sit up so that you can keep yourself centered and balance through the poles.
  5. The most important thing to take into consideration while riding this exercise is the landing after your first fence. You really need to sit back up as tall as you can straight away, wrapping your legs around your horse, this will help your horse stay balanced, as well as keeping your horse straight as you ride to the last fence.
  6. Repeat this exercise until you are happy with your horses approach to the first & last fence, you are looking for the same consistant pace in the canter. Your horse has to use a lot of muscle to lift in front over the poles you will also begin to see a massive improvement with their lift over fences, giving you a well rounded jump.

Try not to go overboard with the height of the fences with this exercise. The exercise is focused mainly on your horses canter & consistant rhythm through the exercise. Fences that are too high may also have a strain on your horses muscles. especially if they are not used working

If you find your horse is rushing in to this exercise put a canter pole before the exercise, likewise if they are rushing afterwards.

If you & your horse have aced this exercise, try giving it a go without the ground poles in between, this will really test out you & your horse and let you know if they really learned what you were trying to teach them!

Let me know how you get on, and be sure to tag us in any videos of you attempting this exercise! Have a look at our Instagram to Check out Dante’s attempts! And remember, always reward your horse if they do something correctly!

As always, Thanks for reading,

Darielle

October Monthly Exercise – The Figure of 8

Its time again for our monthly exercise and this is one we were really looking forward to trying. When the day finally came where we had the arena to ourselves the horses were feeling less than cooperative. It was a dark evening and both horses were grumpy and just not in the mood to listen so it made for an interesting time (and some videos). But we persevered and got through in the end!

What is this Exercise good for?

  • Setting a pace
  • Creating Suppleness
  • Maintaining balance

October-Monthly-Exercise
How to Set it Up

This exercise uses two oxers, a cavaletti and 5 uneven raised canter poles. Depending on the size of your arena you may, like us, decide to just use 3 raised canter poles. We set ours up with 3 and a half steps between each. 

How to Ride it

  1. Pick up a canter, making sure you maintain a nice steady rhythm and start your 20m circle at X. 
  2. Ride from X to your raised canter poles. These are placed on a bend so make sure to look for your horse to bend through their body and up through their neck. As you finish the poles look for your turn to the oxer.
  3. Ride straight to your oxer and make sure to keep balanced as you land so you can be ready for the turn to the cavaletti.
  4. The cavaletti should be ridden as if its sitting on a circle so don’t ride it straight. Your horse should show some bend over this. 
  5. Finish your figure of 8 over the final oxer which sits just a few strides off the fence of the arena. This one comes up quite quickly so you need to make sure you use the full figure of 8 to make the most of the space you have to really prepare your approach to this fence.

What’s great about this exercise is that it isn’t very complicated, but it still gives you and your horse a lot to think about as you ride it. Each of the varying elements in the exercise offer their own challenge so different horses will find different aspects difficult. The main thing is to just take your time and if needs be take on one part at a time until you feel confident enough to put it all together. God knows we struggled on certain parts!

Hope you guys enjoy giving this one a go! Be sure to tag us in any videos so we can see how you got on with it!

Thanks for reading,

Orla & Darielle