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
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.
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.