April Monthly Exercise – The Grid of Choice

A few weeks ago we decided to set up a technical grid exercise. Its one that we were both looking to give a go for quite a while so with some nice weather we decided to set it up. All I’ll say is that we had no idea what we were getting ourselves in for!

 What is this exercise good for?

  • Working on your lines
  • Practicing doglegs
  • Getting your horse to listen and wait for your aid 
  • Working on landing on the correct lead

How to set it up?

This exercise is set up on the centre line of the arena. Place a cross pole between K & F, count two strides from the cross pole and place a vertical. From the second jump, count
two strides and place another vertical. Beside the last vertical, place another two jumps on the diagonal.  These should be two strides on a dogleg from the second fence. 

How to ride it?

  1. To start, leave everything but the cross pole as ground poles so you can check your strides.
  2. The first time, go straight down the centre layout. The second time aim for the jump on the right & lastly aim for the jump on the left.
  3. Once you’re happy with the striding you can start raising everything  into jumps one at a time.
  4. This can be quite an intimidating layout to come into for both horse & rider.  It’s worth going through the grid a few times and making sure you’re comfortable on the different angles before upping the height.

Challenge Yourself

  • If you really want a challenge, try jumping through the grid the other way around, starting with your fences on the angle. 
  • Turn the middle fence into an oxer to really encourage your horse to stretch out and use himself

How did Coco get on?


I can honestly say, I don’t think I’ve ever done a more difficult exercise on Coco. It was incredible how intimidating the layout was once you get over the first fence. You had to know exactly where you were going before you even entered the grid and it really showed if you didn’t. 

On our first attempt through this layout, Coco refused the second fence. It was partly because she was napping to one of the other horses and partly because she could see the fillers on the last few fences. She was much better the second time although still very unsure of the fillers so I got a few funny jumps. 

I also have to mention that I did fall off. We put the second fence into an oxer which I was completely unprepared for. I had a rubbish approach into the first jump which affected our pace and momentum for the second fence. I thought Coco was going to attempt it but she refused and I ended up over her head. Completely my own fault. I got up and tried again, first without the back bar of the oxer and then again with the back bar up. She did that well so I finished her there. 

Overall I was delighted with how she handled the grid. It showed how much we still had to work on but also some positives like the fact that she jumped the scary fillers first time and happily jumped the oxer after I had landed her in it the first time. They’re small improvements but I’ll take every positive step I can get at the moment.

How did Dante get on?


“Oh Dear God” that statement right there pretty much sums up how Dante got on with this exercise, his head was officially blown! 


On his first approach to the grid, the striding had to be adjusted quite some bit after Coco, pushing them all out slightly. The first fence was kept as a cross pole and the remaining combination staying as canter poles, He went through this good, not paying any attention to the second part of the grid until we started adding in extra fences, then things got slightly messy and out of control.

The difference between himself & Coco was massive in a sense of even their spacial awareness, he needs all the space he can get to try make the tight turns, having him falling over his feet was the outcome when he couldn’t figure out where his legs were supposed to go. After doing the grid & demolishing it a few times, I thought it was best to cut out the dogleg at the end, partially eliminate the full grid, and stick to the first two fences working on getting him to relax and focus. 

He was so overwhelmed with the 3rd section of the grid, I really do forget how much of a baby he still is, it’s going to take him another while for him to find those legs of his. Another huge element to the grid, was adding in ground poles to each of the fences, without them he really struggles to find his take of point.  

To summarise everything up, Dante needs all the help he can get when it comes to grids, for example having trot poles on his approach to help him concentrate and to stop him from taking control charging off. 

Doing this exercise put a lot of things into perspective for me & where Dante is with his progress. While some people may think because he is big and well capable of jumping big fences, that he should just be in jumping 1m/1.20 fences, they are completely wrong. Getting him to jump small & to appreciate the jump no matter the height, staying relaxed & focused on his approach is what I am aiming for. 


Is this an exercise you’d ever give a go? If so, let us know how you get on! We’re dying to hear how other people found this exercise.
Thanks for reading,
Orla & Darielle


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