Keeping things interesting, we pieced together this saucy little exercise! Incorporating some jumping while still keeping it quite technical. It gave both horse & rider some great results.
With the riding festival coming up this weekend, this is a great exercise to brush up on your tight turns, approach to fences and landing on the correct lead. Coco managed it tremendously well & well Dante ended up in abandonment after a fight broke loose!
Keep reading to find out what This “Saucy Snake” is all about!!
The Set Up
You will need an arena or an open field to begin with, for set up you will need 4 sets of wings, 4 sets of cups & 11 poles. For the set up we kept all fences small, all standing at approx 50cm.
The distance between the jump & the poles were measured with 10 generous footsteps either side. No striding was measured between the last two jumps. This is where your eye for a stride comes in to play!
See below the diagram for how your arena should look. Be sure to clear out everything else in the arena as you will need all the space you can get especially if you have a bigger horse!
What is The Exercise Good For?
- Letting your horse figure out the approach to a fence
- Position over a fence
- Maintaining a rhythm & keeping it consistant
- Great practice for tight turns
Step By Step Guide On How To Ride This Exercise
1. As always, begin this exercise with a good warm up for your horse. Focus mainly on the canter, keeping it alive, active & bouncy. Once you are happy with your horse, that they are responding well to your aids then can you begin to piece together the Saucy Snake!
2. Not to overwhelm yourself, or your horse, start this exercises by doing everything section by section. Starting with the image below, do this off either rein until you are happy that your horse is approaching the fence correctly & landing afterwards at ease, staying relaxed in the canter.
3. Keep the jumps small, the aim of this exercises is to ride each part as if they are ground poles or canter poles. Your position over the small fence in the middle does not need to be dramatic, focus more on keeping a consistant contact the whole way through.
4. Once you feel comfortable with your horse’s approach, begin to piece more of The Saucy Snake together. Starting on a bend & moving over your diagonal, we found that this proved to be the most tricky line throughout the exercise. Riding Across the diagonal gives your horse more space to run, so sitting back and keeping your leg on, your horse held together & balanced is vital. Also looking up & around your arena. Looking down at the poles will not only cause your horse to run into them, but it will throw your horse off balance with you looking down over their shoulder!
5. Finally piecing the entire exercise together, the main focus is your canter, you need to keep it actively moving forward, energy behind but controlled (we don’t ask for much!) Begin the exercises as per the image below, starting at your curve, moving down the diagonal & then curving to the right finishing over your vertical on the long side. Sitting up & looking to where you are going is very important. Remember once you reach that first ground pole, your job as the rider is done until you reach the first stride when you land after the second ground pole.
6. Try to focus on using your body to direct your horse, with the aid of your legs, keep your hands quiet throughout the exercise. Remembering to look up look up look up!!! Opening your shoulders around the corners in the direction you are turning your horse also really helps.
This exercise proved to be quite difficult for Dante. I have managed to create a fear of turning right, when it comes to jumping & landing to the right, it is something I am working on, but Dante, being Dante takes every chance he can to gain that control. We didn’t manage to finish this exercise fully, due to his bad behaviour but Coco aced it.
This exercise is definitely one I will be incorporating into my weekly routine, it really opens your eyes to the way you use your body around the course, and the control you really need in between fences!
Head over to our Instagram page to check out a video of coco smashing this exercise!
Let us know how you get on with this exercise, leave your thought & comments below & be sure to tag us in any videos of you giving it a test drive!
Until next time,