One easy way eventers can improve their show jumping



One easy way eventers can improve their show jumping

Competing in three different phases dressage, cross-country and show jumping requires Eventers to be well-rounded riders. Many of the same fundamentals and principles apply to all three phases. For example, you need to be able to ride your horse straight in dressage for movements such as the centerline. Your horse has to be straight on cross-country or else you will have run outs at narrow fences. Straightness is equally important in show jumping because drifting down lines messes up distances and a crooked horse is more likely to pull a rail. Although the basics apply for all of Eventing’s phases, there are subtle differences that you need to understand to master the sport.

Riding with a new show jumping coach this summer made me realize why my show jumping was so weak compared to my cross-country. I was organizing on landing off of jumps using the same strategy in both phases. To improve my show jumping, I have a new tactic which does not apply to cross-country. My new show jumping coach pointed out that I was disorganized when I landed off of a fence. Instead of fixing my lead and then moving forward in a controlled canter, I was landing and galloping off at Mach 9 to my next jump. Therefore, I would be organizing desperately at the last minute on approach to the jumps, making for very inconsistent rounds. Listening to my coach’s advice, I began landing off of jumps and immediately getting the correct lead, balancing my horse and then moving forward to my next jump. Voila! I was arriving at all the jumps under control, allowing me to find distances that my horse could jump from effortlessly. So if you want to show jump like a polished professional, the secret is organizing immediately off of landings.



Not for cross-country
Organizing on landing is not effective on cross-country. When you land off of a cross-country fence, you immediately need to think GO. Your priority should be galloping off to the next jump. Do not futz around with a stirrup you lost, bask in how well you just rode that combo, etc. There are typically around 20 jumps on a cross-country course and if you waste just one second on landing off of every jump, which adds up to 20 full seconds by the end of the round. I am not suggesting that you skip organizing entirely before jumping because that would be frightening. The time to organize is on approach to the jumps and how far away from each jump depends on a few factors. When you decide to rebalance your horse will depend on how obedient your mount is and the type of jump. For example, you can set up for a galloping jump closer to the obstacle than you would for a coffin. It would be silly to land and spend time organizing for your next cross-country fence when you are dozens of strides away, and the gallop will unbalance your horse anyway. In show jumping, jumps come up shockingly quick, so you have to be organized at all times.

Avoid rails in show jumping and time faults on cross-country by learning to switch your organization skills when you land off of jumps. It took me over 10 years to figure out this difference between the two phases. Perhaps you are a smarter rider than I am and you have already discovered this but if this is new to you, give it a whirl; I guarantee you will notice a big difference.

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