Step 2: Prac­tice a Cor­ner in the Arena

Practical Horseman - - The Complete Hourglass -

SETUP >> Build the sim­u­lated cor­ner in your arena so you have enough space to jump it in both di­rec­tions: Lay a bar­rel on its side. About 10 feet from it, place two stan­dards close to­gether with cups fac­ing the bar­rel. (They can be closer than this depend­ing on your level.) Rest one end of a 12-foot pole on the bar­rel and put the other end in the cup. Do this with the sec­ond pole and stan­dard. Place a ground line at the base of each ver­ti­cal. Put one end of the last pole on the front of the bar­rel and the other end of the pole on the ground, an­gled to the out­side of the jump at ap­prox­i­mately 100–110 de­grees. This will act as a wing (or guide rail) to di­rect the horse and en­cour­age him to jump. Al­ca­traz has com­peted up to the Ad­vanced level, so he quickly be­comes un­im­pressed with this cor­ner. If he were less ex­pe­ri­enced, I would make sure he had jumped the cor­ner con­fi­dently with the front rail low­ered in both di­rec­tions. If he is hes­i­tant, I will con­tinue to jump with the front rail low­ered un­til he jumps con­fi­dently. Then my helper would put the front rail into the cup and I would ap­proach again, as I’m do­ing here, us­ing the same seat, leg and hand aids as I did in Photo 3 on page 45 along with the guide rail to make it very clear to Al­ca­traz that I want him to jump the cor­ner.

WHERE TO FO­CUS >> To de­ter­mine what part of the cor­ner to fo­cus on and jump, bi­sect the an­gle, imag­in­ing a line that cuts it in half from the widest point of the cor­ner to the tip. In the cen­ter of that line, pic­ture an­other line run­ning to­ward you at a 90-de­gree an­gle. This is the line of your ap­proach. The aim is to pick a “win­dow” on the cor­ner that in­cludes the nar­row­est part of the cor­ner—with­out risk­ing a runout—and the widest part of the cor­ner—with­out ask­ing too much of a scope ques­tion for your horse. Ap­proach­ing the cor­ner in the mid­dle of that win­dow gives you room for er­ror if your horse drifts on ap­proach. After Al­ca­traz con­fi­dently jumps with the guide rail, my helper re­moves it and I ap­proach the cor­ner in the same way I did be­fore: de­fen­sive seat in the sad­dle, legs firmly on his sides with wider-set hands.

TIP >> The pro­gres­sion to jump­ing the fence as a full cor­ner might not hap­pen in one jump school. For the first school, you might start with the front rail an­gled down to the ground and a wing pole to guide the horse (see photo 3 on page 45). For the sec­ond school, you might re­view the first school briefly, then if your horse jumps con­fi­dently, put the pole back in the cup while still us­ing a wing pole. For the third jump school, you can take away the wing.

I low­ered the front pole of the cor­ner from the cup to the ground. This cre­ates a softer face on the cor­ner and helps Al­ca­traz to un­der­stand the con­cept of jump­ing it. At this point, it is use­ful to have a helper on the ground who can place the poles in and out of the cups and change the place­ment of the wing pole. About five strides be­fore the cor­ner, I dropped into a de­fen­sive seat in the sad­dle— sit­ting and bring­ing my up­per body up­right. I also made sure my legs were firmly on his sides and widened my hands. The com­bi­na­tion of leg, seat and hand aids ap­plied to­gether has al­lowed Al­ca­traz to con­fi­dently jump the cor­ner. (He was a lit­tle fresh this day, which is why I am us­ing a short re­lease here.)

Now Al­ca­traz is ready to jump the cor­ner at a higher height, which will pre­pare him for the size of the ac­tual cor­ner once we go out to the cross-coun­try course.

TIP >> Horses and rid­ers will progress at dif­fer­ent rates when it comes to jump­ing a cor­ner in the arena. The key is to ad­vance at a pace that builds con­fi­dence in both you and your horse. If it takes three or more jump schools to reach this point, the time spent in the arena do­ing your home­work is worth it.



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