Yesterday Amanda asked what our favorite exercises are. I have to say I am looking forward to reading everyone’s replies and finding new things to work on. It is very easy to get stuck in a rut with both flat work and jumping if you aren’t deliberate in setting new exercises and asking new questions.
A barn buddy likes to set up a fun course/ exercise of sorts that is almost like an pattern. It is 5 jumps – these can be any assortment of verticals and oxers depending on the number of standards/ poles you have. I want to say that we set it as 3 strides for the outside lines and then it is an angled 2 stride between each of the diagonal fences? But I can’t remember and might have to update this at a later time. This can be ridden as separate lines, individual jumps, and angled fences. I love that it leaves a lot of room to work around the fences while giving you the ability to piece a small course of sorts together.
My next and most recent favorite is the bounce grid that I fell in love with at the Lainey Ashker clinic that was the inspiration for my cavaletti building last weekend. This exercise is a vertical to an oxer with 4 approx. 9′ cavaletti canter poles between them. You can start with just a couple of bounces and add more in or start with poles even if you wanted to. I have found that not only does this exercise force you to be really aware of where the feet are it also encourages your horse to balance back and think about the jumps. I have noticed with Annie that it even helps improve her technique and she has been jumping like a total freak lately.
On the flat I still try to incorporate as many circles and serpentines as I can to get the horse loose through the back and on the aids. For Houston who is more advanced in his training I can work on a lot of lateral work to get him moving his shoulders and haunches. For Annie who is obviously greener in her training I make sure to work on more challenging things in short bursts and then go to something that she understands so that I don’t end up frying her brain but rather increase her confidence.
In a recent lesson the trainer had me thinking about where her shoulders were and actually counter bending her through a turn and then correct bend after and it was amazing the difference that made in our balance. Transitions out of a leg yield has been very useful for her as well. In terms of using poles on the flat I find that setting up two poles as a gate of sort can be a great tool. This allows you to set a focus point for where you want to do transitions as well as helping to ride very deliberate turns.
What are some exercises that you like to use? If you are participating in the hop lmk and I will go check it out!