Jumping across a fenceline
The hunt jump Lily faces is a spar with a rail on top, which is a great place to start, explains Sarah. Although hunt spars are often lower than the show jumps many riders happily jump, they are quite intimidating for a lot of people when they start out. While it is simply a case of getting used to the look of them, Sarah advises nervous riders to build a small spar at home so they can learn to jump them confidently.
Luckily, Lily has discovered her pony has already been hunting before and loved it; this is a big bonus, says Sarah. “It’s not so much the height of the spar, but the fact that we’re suddenly asking the horse to jump across a fenceline. It can be quite complicated for them to get their head around.”
Sarah gets Lily to approach the fence and let Griffin have a really good look (above right). Sarah explains that this is something she routinely does when introducing any horse to schooling over spars or spooky fences.
“Once upon a time, I believed that showing a horse a jump was meaningless from the horse’s perspective, so I decided to do a little test when I was teaching at a pony club. I had four groups of riders and I decided the first and third group could show their horses the jumps before we jumped them, but the second and fourth group couldn’t.
“I had to stop the experiment after the first day, because the groups who were allowed to show their ponies the jumps cleared them with no refusals and in the other groups we were picking up riders off the ground. It made a huge difference.”
The first time Lily approaches the spar, she lacks a little conviction and Griffin grinds to a halt (below right).
“You’ve just got to be that little bit more confident,” says Sarah.
“He needs to feel that Lily wants to go. If necessary, imagine there’s a very hungry lion chasing you and it wants brown and white pony for dinner! Kick, kick, kick!”
With a more determined ride from Lily, Griffin sails over the fence (top).
“Man, he can jump!” says Sarah. “We want that really strong, confident ride from Lily everywhere.”