I am loving doing these exercises, the reaction is just amazing! I am trying to out do myself each time thinking up bigger, better & more exciting schooling exercises for you all.
I have seen a good bit of conversation lately on Grid Work, with that I decided to put together a simple yet effective exercise for you all to try out, one suitable for the experienced or beginner ride, it also comes with a string of benefits too for horse & rider.
We have a special addition to our exercise post this week let me introduce you to Jump Start Showjumps who have kindly gifted us 3 sets of their fabulous new Pole Raisers. I have incorporated them into the Grid Lock exercise, to show you how useful & amazing they are in your everyday training.
Keep scrolling to find out more!
The Set Up
For your set up, your arena does not need to be completely free. If you wish for your horse to be less distracted you can of course set your arena up with just the grid.
Your “Grid” will be set up across the diagonal of your arena. See the image below. You will need 3 sets of your Jump Start Showjump Pole Raisers, and 6 poles. If you dont have your Pole Raisers, you can use blocks yo raise your poles or you can alternatively use wings in their place.
The Distance between your first two raised poles is 10 footsteps. I also stacked two sets of Pole Raisers to raise the second pole a little higher. The distance then to your jump is one stride. To walk this out you will need 8 large footsteps. (This may need to be adjusted for pony strides!)
I also put a placing pole after the jump. This helped Dante with holding himself together a bit better after he landed. I walked out 14 footsteps for this, he has a big stride or 4 large footsteps. This can be adjusted as you jump your grid.
The Benefits of This Exercise
- Improves your accuracy
- Improves yours & your horses Rhythm
- Improves riders confidence with jumping
- Gives the rider time to put more focus on their position
- Helps with Straightness
How To Ride This Exercise
As always, I advise that you do a good warm up with your horse prior to partaking in any of our exercises. For this exercise it was all about a consistant rhythm in the canter, whilst creating an active forward canter focusing on getting his hindend underneath him to create that energy I will need before I started on my grid. Once you are happy with how your horse is feeling follow the steps below to get the most out of our “Grid Lock” exercise.
Step 1: Start your grid by doing it in sections. Starting easy & building yourself up to the final hurrah! See the image to the right. Your first task is your two canter poles with one stride into your ground pole. Remember before you approach your grid get a consistant canter if you have to circle a few times, that is ok! On your approach remember that they are raised ground poles, a jumping position is not required. It is up to your horse to get over the poles, you are there to guide them! Remember to keep your contact consitant throughout, not to drop it once you reach the first pole. (yes that is my bad habit!)
Step 2: As you go through the grid a few times, try to focus on getting your horse to land on the correct lead change as he comes over the last pole. If you are having trouble with this, when you reach your corner as you land bring your horse to trot & then straight away ask them for canter on the correct lead. Once you are happy it is time to move on to some proper grid work by adding in some jumps!
Step 3: Leaving your ground poles on your pole raisers adjust your jump up-to a height that you feel comfortable with. Your horse will be used to going down this grid by now, when you ride down your grid again now with a jump being introduced, try to focus on your position in the saddle. Are you sitting up tall between poles, shoulders back? how is your jumping position? Also start to think about your horses straightness through the grid are they are veering to a certain side? Are they struggling to lift their leg over the fence? Well Lets complete this grid by adding in some V poles.
Step 4: The last step is to add in some V poles. I added them in to get Dante lifting his legs properly, and to help improve the shape he makes over a fence. He can be quite lazy at times, V poles make him concentrate that bit more & sharpen up his jumping. They are also great for horses that veer to the left or the right. To set them up simply place them either side of your jump, with the V forming n the middle of the fence as per the image below.
Step 5: Jump your horse down this grid until you are happy with their performance, I tend not to over do it with grids, I also up the height each time I jump down it so that Dante has something different each time. Remember this is a gymnastics exercise for your horse so they will be tired quicker than normal!
If you are having some difficulties with your horse or with their jumping, remember that especially if they are young they are still learning. Their bodies are getting used to all these new muscles & movements so don’t be too hard on yourself or your horse & do try not to over work them. Grid work is a great confidence builder for horses learning to jump or for youngsters. Keep things simple.
About Jump Start Showjumps Pole Raisers
Pole Raisers are a clever, easy to use training tool for you & your horse. They are used to raise ground poles during training session to help improve your horses flatwork. There are a string of benefits that will enhance your horses performance such as helping your your horse understand the placing of their legs, balance, co-ordination & helping them to concentrate during your training sessions. They can be used singularly or you can stack them also for more height if you wish.
The Quality – I can put my hand on my heart & say that the pole raisers certainly stood the test of time , they are 100% weather proof! I am slightly ashamed to say I literally left them out in hail, rain & snow over the weekend and they didn’t disintegrate or soften at all. I found them really easy to carry around the place, they are made from wood so you would expect them to be quite heavy but they are super manageable.
My thoughts on the product – If I had a euro for every time someone in the yard told me they were amazed by this product I would have at least €20 by now! I am super impressed. They are the perfect addition to any pole mad equestrian. They are heavy enough to not move out of place if your horse knocks the pole off likewise their is enough freedom for the pole to be able to roll off when your horse knocks, super important!
The price & purchase information – The value for money is outrageous! for a set of two the cost is €8.50 or if you wish to buy a set of 3 pairs they cost €24. Compared to some plastic items on the market I really couldn’t recommend them more. If you want to place your order get in Contact with John O’Toole by calling 086 7337925 or be sure to drop him a PM on Facebook.
This weeks exercise was one of my favorites yet. Let me know if you give it a go at home or in a lesson by tagging us in your videos, in turn if you have any questions dont hesitate to get in contact! Be sure to also follow Jump Start Showjumps on their Instagram page.
Be sure to head over to our Instagram page to check out Dante tackling this Exercise, He is a superstar!
Until Next Time & if you want to feature in one of our exercises or collaborate be sure to drop us a PM.