Even­ter Imo­gen Mur­ray on the bounce grid ex­er­cise

The four-star event rider ex­plains how bounce fences in a grid can im­prove a horse’s jump­ing tech­nique

Horse & Hound - - Contents -

‘He has to work ev­ery­thing out for him­self, which ul­ti­mately makes him more ag­ile’

AIM

I USE this sim­ple row of four fences on bounce dis­tances with all my horses. It helps to im­prove their foot­work and jump­ing tech­nique, while al­low­ing the rider to fo­cus on their po­si­tion. It can add va­ri­ety to your jump train­ing and is a good ex­er­cise where the horse does most of the work, en­cour­ag­ing him to re­ally use him­self and work out where to put his feet. It is also a great ex­er­cise for cre­at­ing in­de­pen­dence in the horse when he is jump­ing — he has to work ev­ery­thing out for him­self and get him­self out of trou­ble, which ul­ti­mately makes him more ag­ile.

The fences don’t have to be high, and you can come in trot to keep it sim­ple. All the rider has to fo­cus on is main­tain­ing the cor­rect po­si­tion and bal­ance, and then leave the horse alone to do the rest.

Be­cause it is quite a gym­nas­tic ex­er­cise, it is also ben­e­fi­cial for im­prov­ing strength, fit­ness and sup­ple­ness, which is one of the rea­sons why I use it with my older horses through the win­ter to keep them tick­ing over, with­out mak­ing them jump too high.

THE EX­ER­CISE

1 De­pend­ing on the age and ex­pe­ri­ence of the horse, start with poles on the floor where the bounces would be. The poles should be placed at 3.6m (12ft) in­ter­vals. If your poles are nor­mal com­pe­ti­tion length, they’re 12ft long, mak­ing them the same length as the dis­tance, so it’s re­ally easy to mea­sure. The first pole should be 3ft closer to the sec­ond, as this will act as a place pole for the first fence.

If the horse is young, I sug­gest trotting over the poles on the floor a few times first to get them used to where ev­ery­thing will be.

2 Raise the sec­ond pole — about 60-80cm, de­pend­ing on ex­pe­ri­ence — and ap­proach in trot, as it gives the horse time to as­sess the jump and pre­vents him from us­ing speed to cre­ate power.

3 Raise each fence, one at a time, un­til all fences are up and there are three bounces, al­low­ing the horse to jump through the grid each time.

4 If the horse is jump­ing down the grid with ease and con­fi­dence, add an oxer one stride af­ter the fi­nal bounce. Con­tin­u­ing to ap­proach in trot means the horse has to cre­ate his own power with­out rush­ing, usu­ally re­sult­ing in a bet­ter tech­nique.

Imo­gen has evented up to CCI4* and was the high­est-placed un­der-25 rider at Bad­minton Horse Tri­als in 2017

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