There comes a time where you need to progress & train by yourself at home without your instructor present. This can be the case for both of us here at NBW on a weekly basis. Unfortunately the bank account doesn’t always stretch far enough for weekly lessons!
We are both extremely lucky to have our horses stabled at the same yard, we tend to help each other out quite regularly, with that being said we both had a few things we needed to focus on, so we built ourselves a course, taking it in turns to help each other out & try to bring in previous comments that we know our instructor would be shouting at us!
So, with that in mind we decided to compile our top 7 tips for schooling around a course minus an instructor!
We have also attached the layout of our course, be sure to give it a go. We may have gone slightly wild on the bends and turns, to give ourselves that extra challenge!
1. Building your course
When building your course, have a think about what it is exactly you want to work on. Is it combinations, tight turns, doglegs, adjusting strides? Whatever it is, be sure to include a good variety of elements so that you can really focus on what you want to improve on. For anyone looking for inspiration, check out the course we created to the right. We wanted to work on tight turns and this course was perfect for that!
2. Fill those jumps!
In order to truly prepare for a competition, you need to spice up the jumps a bit. Most courses now-a-days feature a swarm of brightly coloured poles and fillers so its only fair you give yourself and your horse the practice at home over these types of jumps. If you’re short on fillers then its time to get creative. Look for anything around your yard that could substitute as a filler. It could be small cones, buckets, a blanket as a ‘water tray’, whatever you can find, use it. You’ll thank yourself when you get to your next competition!
3. One Piece at a Time
When first jumping your course, we would always recommend you start with one element at a time. It might be a single fence that acts as your warm up jump which then connects on to another jump on a dog leg, which then leads around to an oxer on a diagonal. Next you might do your double once or twice to make sure your strides are correct before combining that with your oxer. And so on you continue until eventually you’ll have jumped every element of the course with confidence.
4. Keep it small to start
Keep the heights small and comfortable while you find your way around the first few times, especially if its your horse’s first time seeing one of your handmade fillers. Once you’re happy with how you and your horse are jumping you can start putting up the height to the level that you’ll be competing at.
5. Remember what you’ve been taught
Just because your instructor isn’t with you doesn’t mean you can completely forget everything they’ve taught you. Ride your course with your instructors words in your head telling you to stop doing that thing you always do. Whether its “Drop your hands, Orla!” or “Shoulders back, Darielle!” keep telling yourself what you imagine your instructor would be saying if they were there, it’s actually the best way to break your bad habits.
6. Challenge yourself
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You know your own capabilities so why not push yourself to go that bit further? Whether it’s challenging yourself to jump the course in the fastest time, building the scariest filler-filled fence you or your horse has ever seen or putting the jump up just two more holes, you know what you’re capable of so why not go for it?
7. End on a Good Note
This is something we always try to live by here at NBW. Course work can be draining for both horse and rider so you need to know when to take your win. If you’re nearing the end of your session and you get that one great round, end it there. If you’ve been struggling with one element of the course and you’ve spent some time focusing just on that, make sure you do it right once, and end it there. You and your horse will remember that last jump of the session so always make sure its a good one.
So there you have it! Our top tips for jumping a course without your instructor present. Of course all of these tips can be used whilst doing basic training with your horse also.
Let us know if you have any other tips you use, we love reading everyone’s different techniques.
If you decide to give our course a go, the striding between the dogleg (fence 3-4) was 4 strides and the double (fence 6-7) was 2 strides. Be sure to tag us in any videos of you doing the course. We’d love to see how everyone else gets on with it!
Thanks for reading,