Friday’s Five – Trot up tips for fall three-days

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Friday’s Five – Trot up tips for fall three-days

At every CCI event you have to jog your horse up for the Ground Jury once before dressage and then again after cross-country before you can show jump. Additionally, if a CIC event runs cross-country before show jumping, you will have to jog up your horse. These jog ups are to ensure that all horses are fit and sound to compete. However, having a horse that is a hundred-percent sound still does not guarantee you will be ‘accepted’ and able to show. Countless sound horses have been ‘spun’ at jog ups because of poor presentation. It is easy for the Ground Jury to confuse a sound horse for a lame one if a rider is dragging it crookedly up the jog lane, the horse is too spooky to trot in a straight line, etc. You also want to look great at the jog up to make a good impression on your peers, the dressage judges and take some sweet pictures for your social media. You work hard to keep your horse healthy and fit, make sure you use these tips to ace your next jog up and dazzle all the onlookers:

1) It starts in the warm-up: Your horse’s warm-up for a jog should be treated with equal importance to its dressage warm-up. Do not show up at the jog with a stiff horse that is not paying complete attention to you. Begin walking your horse a minimum of 30 minutes before your estimated jog up time. Make sure your horse is marching and its shoulder should be beside yours. Jog your horse a few times in warm-up focusing on it proceeding in a trot as soon as you break to a run and slowing to a walk when you do. Treat these in-hand transitions with as much care as you would if you were mounted. Nothing looks worse than a rider pulling on the reins and clucking at a horse that is lagging behind them in a jog fit for the Western Pleasure ring. Or a horse that ignores its rider and drags them right off the jog lane in a borderline gallop. A proper warm-up will help you get your horse listening to you before you have to strut your stuff for the Ground Jury.

2) Straightness is a must: If you want to pass the jog your horse has to trot down that jog lane in a straight line. Horses that go wiggling down the lane or with their heads pulled to the side by the rider tend to look a bit off. A few uneven steps can be enough for the Ground Jury to question your horse’s soundness. Pay attention and make sure your horse is walking in a straight line before you ask it to trot down the lane. Then be sure to bring your horse back to the walk before you turn it at the end of the jog lane. It is a common rookie mistake to trot the horse a bit into the turn before you can get it to walk and this must be avoided like the plague. Same thing applies after the turn; wait for your horse to be travelling on a straight line before you ask it to trot. Keep calm and only show your horse trotting on a straight lane for a likely ‘accepted’.

 


 

3) Use a technique that works for you and your horse: Watch the jog up at a big event like the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* and you will see a huge variety of jog up tactics. Some riders only hold onto the outside rein, others hold both, some riders jog only holding onto the buckle of the reins and some people chose to jog up with a chain lead rope looped through the bit. Some riders carry their whips down the jog lane while others elect to go whip free. You will see some horses presented very forward and with their heads up, while others may go a little slower and with their heads a bit lower. Figure out what rein holding arrangement you are most comfortable with, if your horse is more respectful when you have a whip in hand, and which speed and head carriage your horse looks the best in. There is not a single formula for jogging up horses correctly and it is your job to experiment a bit to discover what works best for you and your equine partner.

4) Do not sacrifice appropriate footwear for style: I have seen riders break heels at jog ups, lose ballet flats midway down the lane and trip and fall. Of course, you want to look great at the jog but do not risk a fiasco just to sport some flashy shoes. There are plenty of footwear options on the market that are super-chic and well-suited to jog ups. You can have the best of both the style world and practicality with these great finds.

5) Practice makes perfect: Waiting until an event that has a jog up to see how well your horse handles jogs is a bad idea. Practice jogging your horse at home to train it to jog correctly and master your own technique. Jogging up a horse is a borderline art form and if you want to be good at it you better spend some time working on it at home. Have someone watch you jogging your horse up so they can make sure you are keeping your horse straight and all looks good. This practice will make you more comfortable at jogging so when the time comes at a competition you will be relaxed enough to smile and take some lovely jog up pictures. It takes a huge amount of effort to make it to an event with a jog; do not take this formality for granted by thinking you and your mount do not need any practice.

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