Showjumper Jes­sica Men­doza ex­plains the easy grid that gets in­stant re­sults

You need to be sup­ple and flex­i­ble to pull off a con­fi­dent jump­ing round — any hint of stiff­ness and poles come tum­bling down. Top Bri­tish showjumper Jes­sica Men­doza re­veals the sim­ple grid that helps keep her horses sup­ple

Your Horse (UK) - - Contents -

T’S NOT ONLY dres­sage di­vas that need to work on their horse’s sup­ple­ness. It’s equally as im­por­tant if you’re keen on jump­ing. That’s be­cause ne­go­ti­at­ing a fence will be much eas­ier for your horse if his mus­cles are soft and sup­ple, and even more so when you’re rid­ing round a whole course. In turn, this means jump­ing be­comes nicer for you too, and you’ll feel more con­fi­dent. If your horse is re­luc­tant to go for­wards, his body will feel rigid and against your aids. If his jump­ing style is flat or hol­low, he’ll ben­e­fit from do­ing some sup­pling ex­er­cises.

What is sup­ple­ness?

Sup­ple­ness is your horse’s abil­ity to com­fort­ably bend lon­gi­tu­di­nally (back to front) and lat­er­ally (side to side) in re­sponse to your aids, while re­main­ing re­laxed. This soft­ness and flex­i­bil­ity is es­sen­tial for all dis­ci­plines — in­clud­ing hack­ing. Lon­gi­tu­di­nal sup­ple­ness is nec­es­sary for your horse to bas­cule over the jumps. This is the round arc his body makes as he reaches the apex of the jump — his back should be rounded up­wards as he stretches his neck for­wards and down with his knees tucked up. Lat­eral sup­ple­ness is just as im­por­tant for a jump­ing horse and will en­able him to ex­e­cute the sharp turns nec­es­sary to pull off a win­ning jump-off.

Flatwork fixes

Rid­ing tran­si­tions within the pace — for ex­am­ple, rid­ing from col­lected to work­ing can­ter — and di­rect tran­si­tions be­tween the paces (walk-can­ter and trot-can­ter) is an easy way to im­prove your horse’s sup­ple­ness. So too are school­ing move­ments, in­clud­ing serpentines (see p38), cir­cles and lat­eral work, which Jes­sica rec­om­mends us­ing as part of your jump­ing warm up.

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