Friday, January 10, 2014

Bragging Rights!

Last night, we jumped a “diamond exercise” in preparation for corners.  This exercise was recently featured on Eventing Nation, but I can’t seem to find it now to share it…
Picture a diamond shape made by 4 ground poles and a jump that runs from one corner to the other.  You enter perpendicular to a set of ground poles and cross the jump at approximately 45-degrees.  Our focus was to remain straight on our chosen line.  I will apologize in advance for a huge chunk of wordiness and no significant visual imagery to entertain you…
I'm a firm believer that my horse should jump at the point and angle that I put them - Opie was always happy to oblige!

Considering how we started this exercise, I wasn’t sure if the Fancy Pony was going to get it together.  When all the poles were on the ground, she was tripping over them, tripping over her own feet…  At one point, she just straight up jumped them all as if it was a double bounce…
The poles in the middle became a cross-rail…  Things quieted some, but she didn’t quite understand the question the first time through.  We entered straight (according to the exercise, of course, not the jump), jumped the cross-rail on the same line we entered, but landed and exited the exercise on a line perpendicular to the jump (in spite of my right leg insisting that we stay on the original line).  I understood her confusion, but we tried again to clarify the question.  This time, I felt the turn in the air (and that she was completely disregarding my right leg again), so I pulled her back onto the line with my left hand and rein.  I really felt bad about having to resort to such crude aids.  Coach cheered my efforts to make the expectations obvious.  We tried it one more time, and she got it!!
After a few more runs to get her comfortable with the whole idea, the cross-rail became a vertical.  You see, I have this mental thing…  Throw me into ANYTHING with cross-rails, and I just sit back and ride it.  Make it a vertical, or just make it bigger than it has been, and I start riding differently.  Coach told us to take the vertical at the trot or canter, our choice.  The conservative ‘don’t-overface-the-pony’ part of my mind wanted to trot it.  So, I cantered it and made myself ride it the same.  How did I ride it the same?  I rode to the jump.  I rode after the jump.  I didn’t exactly look at the jump…  I mean, I *saw* the jump, but somehow I continued to see the cross-rail in my mind’s eye.  I focused on connecting my pony through my outside aids.  I concentrated on maintaining my line.  I put my body in the middle of my horse and “disconnected” my arms to follow my horse’s head.  If she fell on her forehand and got strung out around the short side of the arena, I sent her into the bridle.  If she tried to rush, I sat up and set her on her hocks.  If she tried to break (her first response when I set her on her hocks), I closed my leg and sent her to the bridle. I focused on making the ride “not about the jump.”
I added the challenge of walk-canter transitions before approaching the exercise.  Typically, I get a different canter from trot-canter transitions than I do from walk-canter transitions.  The walk-canter result is usually a little faster, less balanced, and somewhat rushed.  She was now being required to step right into her jumping canter, and she rose to my expectations!
Unexpected Bonuses:
1)  My pony (who was consistently bracing against and ignoring my right leg) softened and responded to the guidance from my legs.
2)  My pony became more elastic in the canter!


  1. Definitely something to brag about

  2. Love it when they soften like that. Worthy brag!

  3. It was on an Evention episode a few weeks ago. I tried it too awhile back., It is REALLY fun!

    1. Did you find that it loosened your pony up, too? I'm really looking forward to finally learning the "how" of corners! This exercise was very insightful!



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