I was really proud of myself on Friday as I started my pre jump session warmup. I’d spent half an hour moving my jumps around and setting up something that gave me a lot of options for coursework but also still left me the option for a fairly difficult (or so I thought) exercise involving a corner and a skinny. Considering I only have 5 fences, that’s an accomplishment.
I got on, went through my favorite “Crazy Eights” exercise to start, strung a simple course together, then went for my “difficult” corner/skinny and angle exercise. Henry hopped right through the damn thing on the first try without batting an eye, and I’m pretty sure he was very smugly laughing at me the whole way. Obviously I bore him. I really thought the vertical right turn to corner left turn to skinny might be at least interesting to him, but no. The most reaction I got out of him was a spook at the corner as we cantered past it for our line of angled fences.
As we were walking around the field to cool out, I started brainstorming other exercises I could do, which then led me to what I thought seemed like a fun blog hop idea! What are your favorite exercises? Flatwork or jumping or both!
On the flat my two most-used exercies are canter squares to get his front end up (the joys of a downhill horse), and canter spiral in to walk, which helps keep him rocked back on his hind end a bit better in the down transition. Let’s be honest, the only way we can accomplish a canter-walk transition right now is on the spiral in. But it definitely helps, as do the squares.
For jumping, as I mentioned above, my favorite one is what I’ve dubbed Crazy Eights. I think I saw someone else refer to it as Count Up. Either way. Basically I just have one tiny fence or a single pole on the ground that I canter on a circle, and each time I go over it I start counting strides from further away. So on the first pass when you’re one stride away you’d count one, on the second pass you’d count down from two, on third pass from 3, etc all the way up to 8 from each direction. The point is to be more aware of your rhythm and where you are in relation to fence, and it helps hone your eye for a distance. The key is that you’re not allowed to change the canter to make your count correct. If I start my count to close or too far away, then I’m just wrong… I don’t get to pull or kick and make it work. As someone who really loves to mess with the canter, this exercise is excellent for my self control.
Very interested to hear what everyone else likes!