Ex­er­cise 3: Ad­ja­cent Ox­ers

Practical Horseman - - Cross Country -

Ex­er­cise 3: Ad­ja­cent Ox­ers

Setup: Two ox­ers set side by side at the end of the ring with a ground pole 18 feet (one stride) in front of each oxer

Af­ter rid­ers went through Ex­er­cises 1 and 2, they can­tered down the long side on the right lead to the other end of the arena where Ex­er­cise 3 was set. They can­tered over the ground pole clos­est to the cen­ter of the ring, took one quiet stride, jumped the oxer, then made a left cir­cle be­fore they ap­proached the ground pole and oxer clos­est to the rail in the same fash­ion. Rid­ers then ex­e­cuted a roll­back turn to the right, again as in Ex­er­cises 1 and 2, head­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion the horse would an­tic­i­pate.

“You can make a cir­cle in be­tween, you can turn right af­ter the first one, you can halt af­ter the first one,” Kent said. “It doesn’t mat­ter to me. I want you to think about the horse that you are rid­ing, how you are set­ting him up for the course you’re go­ing to do to­mor­row and what’s go­ing to be pro­duc­tive train­ing.”

When Olivia jumped Ex­er­cise 1 and halted, Kent told her that on her hot horse she should have tran­si­tioned down to walk or, even bet­ter, a very slow trot to keep the mare’s mind quiet.

“There’s no rush, there’s no time limit here, just train the horse,” Kent said de­lib­er­ately as he asked Oliva to make a cir­cle be­fore ap­proach­ing Ex­er­cise 2. “It’s re­ally im­por­tant to me when I’m school­ing a horse that I’m not on a clock for any­thing. You’re think­ing about how to make this horse bet­ter for your course to­mor­row,” he con­tin­ued, re­fer­ring to the mock Na­tions Cup sched­uled for the fol­low­ing day. “She has to be obe­di­ent, slow, on a longer stride than she nat­u­rally wants to carry while, at the same time, be­ing re­laxed.”

Af­ter Ex­er­cise 2, Olivia trot­ted down the long side and made a cir­cle at the can­ter be­fore ap­proach­ing the oxer. “Per­fect,” praised Kent. “I like that. There’s no limit to what you can do. You make it work for your horse. If you need to make a cir­cle or make two cir­cles, it’s no big deal.”

In con­trast, Kent re­minded Cait­lyn Con­nors, whose horse was “a bit slow off the spur, hang­ing off the back pole [of the cross­rail in Ex­er­cise 2] and al­most land­ing on the ground line” to be ready with a cluck so that he moves. “Make sure you’re cov­er­ing the dis­tance by us­ing your leg or your cluck, not by get­ting there with your shoul­der,” he warned.

When the horse hung on the bri­dle and tried to go right af­ter the cross­rail in an­tic­i­pa­tion of head­ing to Ex­er­cise 3, Kent had Cait­lyn turn him left and make a half cir­cle. “He wants to go to

Olivia Wood­son and Stair­way to the Stars soar over the oxer clos­est to the rail in Ex­er­cise 3 af­ter just jump­ing the oxer clos­est to the cen­ter of the ring while head­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

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