UNDERSTANDING DISTANCES - Measure distances correctly

horse jumpingThe importance of walking a jumping course has been stressed in many articles, however this exercise is not just for remembering the route, it is also vital that the relative distances are measured.

The size of your pony or horse is obviously relevant to stride length, as is the type and size of the obstacle. Working with your trainer and jumping all variations of fences will help you learn how to present your horse correctly, whether it is for an upright, an oxer of a triple bar.

Distances in training depend on:

• The size of the fences
• The horse’s length of stride
• The education of the horse
• The rider’s ability to establish a good canter

Here is the guide to the horses stride length, judged on a working canter.

  1. Training, riding school cobs, smaller ponies and gymnastic grids.
    Imperial 10ft Metric 3m
  2. Riding Club and training competition for both horses and large ponies also grids.
    Imperial 11ft Metric 3.25m
  3. Competition show-jumping  novice to international level.
    Imperial 12ft  Metric 3.5m

    In order to accurately assess the distances between fences take steps of 3ft (90 cms), that is slightly longer than a natural human stride. 
    Four of these steps are the equivalent to one of your horse's strides.

When walking these distances remember that the horse will land two 3ft steps after the fence and take off two of your steps before the next element.
As an example: if you walk 16 strides between two fences, take off 2 for landing and 2 for take off, this leaves 12  in between, divided by four it equates to three horse strides.

Regular practice of walking distances will help you ride a more balanced, accurate round. The walked distances will tell you where to shorten the horses stride and also when you will need to lengthen in order to present the horse correctly for each jump and not put them on an impossible stride from which to jump.  Click here for more jumping tips

By getting your distance exactly right means you don’t have to adjust them as you change pace, With all pole work, remember to ride over them in both directions– alternate your riding over poles with going large around the school, give your horse breaks, and always praise him for accurate polework.
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