August 10, 2012

Jump Lesson

I have heard many times in the past that a jump is just another canter stride, and that the quality of the canter dictates the quality of the jump.  CJF, in particular, continually asked her clinic riders “What kind of canter is that?  Is that a good canter for a steeplechase jump?  Is that the same canter you’d need for a bounce gymnastic?  Of course not, those two jumps take two different canters.  Can you get those different canters from your horse?”

That sort of thinking is the reason that Connor and I don’t jump very often, despite being eventers and jumping in two of the three phases of our sport.  When we do jump, like last night, it’s after weeks of focusing on things like the quality of the canter, transitions and adjustability, and we see incredible improvements in the quality of the jumps themselves.

Since the CJF clinic in May, we have jumped just one other time, but his very green canter has been a major focus since then.   Last night, after spending the first half of the lesson doing upward and downward transitions in all three gaits while in two-point, (focusing hard on keeping him soft, round and quiet), we spent the rest of the lesson doing crossrails, primarily at the canter after warming up at the trot.

The difference from the last time we jumped to now was remarkable.  She really tried to push us mentally last night, having us do things like rolling back to a fence off the rail and making tighter turns than we have done before. With the improvement in his canter and the way he carries himself in general, I felt like I had a new pony.  His size helps with those tight turns, but he feels so agile now that he’s not completely flat and “runny” at the canter.  The control I've developed in our Dressage work directly translates to an easier ride over fences.  He was smooth and more confident over the fences, and he’s developed the back musculature to allow him to jump in a more controlled manner rather than that massive pop-style jump he was doing last time I jumped him.

For myself, last week’s thigh-blocking revelation helped me relax through the knees and sink more deeply into my knees and ankles, rather than perching and being forward of his center of gravity like I typically am.  It’s a work in progress, but I know that as I get better, so will he.

It may be a while until we get to jump again, but regardless of whether or not we are actually practicing over fences, we are always practicing jumping.


  1. That is exactly why I'm taking dressage lessons in preparation for a h/j show this fall :)

  2. I am so glad you see that connection. So many think they have to jump a actual jump to work concepts.
    I also believe a horse only has so many jumps in him, so doing flat work can extend the time before retirement.

  3. Good post! Looking forward to hearing how you both progress over the next few months