Practise turns and develop rhythm
OBSTACLES CAN COME thick and fast when you’re out on the cross country, so being able to prepare and make adjustments to your horse’s stride when needed is essential. “This exercise is good for practising rhythm, straightness and balance in your canter,” explains Ibby. “You’ll need to be straight for take-off and landing to help you prepare for what’s coming next. It also helps you to train your eye to see a stride.” Being able to get into a rhythm with your canter has huge benefits for when you have an optimum time to stick to, so the more you practise, the better.
How to ride it
SET IT UP: Place a parallel jump in the centre of the arena and an upright fence at each end (see diagram, right), set at a height you feel comfortable with. If you’re just starting off or you and your horse lacks experience, begin with poles on the floor. Then: a) Begin in canter on the left rein. b) Approach the end of the school and look ahead for the first jump. c) Turn towards the first jump and ride straight. d) Jump the fence, landing and riding away in a straight line. e) Look for the next fence in the middle of the school and ride towards it, focusing on having a straight approach. f) Jump the fence and repeat to the third and final fence. g) After the third jump, go large and change the rein. h) Then repeat this exercise on the other rein. THE NEXT LEVEL: Make the parallel jump wider to encourage your horse to use his back over the fence.