By: Brittany Bevis
AQHA horse trainer and multiple World and Congress Champion, Lainie DeBoer, had so much fun doing the COVID-19 Schooling Survival Guide- Equitation, that she asked if she could do another in our series! This one will be focused on Jumping.
“We had so much excitement regarding the COVID-19 article and video that we decided to make another edition, this one building upon the exercises from the Equitation series and adding a Jumping element for people who show in that discipline. I incorporate this exercise into my program all of the time with both my young horses and my clients.”
“Hopefully, you’re having fun with this at home, and it’s giving you a lot of information about your strengths and weaknesses. I’m enjoying sharing these with you, and your enthusiasm and comments are infectious. It gives me an eagerness to go to the barn and practice, practice, practice, to get ready for the next horse show, whenever that may be!”
Wheel of Death Part 2
If you remember from the Equitation edition, the Wheel of Death was one of the most popular exercises. For the Jumping edition, you add another set of poles with a middle pole connecting the two “circles.” It will feel like a figure eight pattern, but there are unlimited possibilities.
“When you set up the circles, the key is to make it all balance,” Lainie says. “I don’t necessarily set a specific distance, but I do make sure the poles are evenly spaced. I usually walk out from the middle of a pole to the middle of another pole. That means 18 steps in my indoor arena. Then, I balance the rest of the poles out. Depending on your space and arena, it will vary. Mine are based loosely off of a 20-meter circle.”
Once the pattern is set, the first exercise consists of cantering a straight line around the outside of the arena. For the first circle, you can set a certain stride number, for example, nine strides. Then, once you turn around and change directions to go the other way, try to alter your stride distance as well. For the second direction, you could strive for eight strides.
“This is just an adjustability exercise going off of both leads and recognizing going towards and away from the in gate. Your goal is to maintain straightness and matching the strides to look even and balanced in both circles.”
The second exercise is the same as the first, but you can elevate the rails into jumps for an increased level of difficulty. “Try to focus on having your horse hold his lead each way while he’s jumping. That way, your horse becomes straight and more ambidextrous.” It’s also especially helpful when you transition into the show pen.
The third exercise consists of cantering the circles with the poles back on the ground. “First, I canter one circle and then go across the diagonal pole connecting the two circles, while changing my direction,” Lainie says. In this exercise, there is the added challenge of trying to get your horse to change leads over the middle, diagonal pole. “Then, canter the other circle off of the opposite lead. This way, you’re showing balance off of both leads. Make sure you keep the same number of strides in between two poles.”
The fourth exercise consists of raising the poles to jumps once again and repeating the routine. Lainie recommends keeping the jumps small, at two feet to start. The goal is to canter both circles, connecting with the diagonal pole, in the same number of strides, while maintaining the same pace.
“What’s great about this exercise is that it really let’s you know where your weakness lies. Does your horse land on one lead more? Do you get quicker off one side? Does your horse bulge one way or the other? Are they stiffer on one lead or the next? Do they drift to one corner? If you have trouble, just ask yourself what the exercise telling you and what you need to work harder on in your flat work to overcome it.”
Once you’ve mastered doing both circles with the lead change, Lainie says to try dropping stirrups for added difficulty. “This is an exercise that we do before any Championship show with my Equitation riders. They must be able to do this exercise, without their stirrups, in order to feel ready for the World Show. Good luck, and let me know how you’re progressing!”
Stay tuned for a video companion piece to this article coming soon.
Also, keep an eye on EquineChronicle.com for a Showmanship pattern with Jenny Frid. Email B.Bevis@EquineChronicle.com if you have a suggestion for our next featured discipline.