This is a great exercise for those with small schools (obviously it works equally well in a large space!).
Set three uprights on the centre line so that they can be jumped from either direction. Keep them fairly small to start (80cm is fine). If you have a very young or wobbly horse you can even just use poles on the ground. Space the fences approximately 7.5yds apart so that you get one non-jumping stride in between.
Ride the exercises in the following order (increasing level of difficulty):
Red – straight down the line of fences, making sure that your turns at either end are good and your approach and get away are as straight as possible. Make sure you’re jumping the dead centre of each fence – mark it with a bit of tape if necessary – and not drifting to the left or the right down the line. Picking an object in the distance to line up with and focus on can help with straightness, as can jumping towards a mirror or having someone watch you from head on.
Green – using the middle fence only, ride a figure of eight with the fence at the centre. Again the emphasis is on straightness and holding your line. The first and last fences in the line, although you are not jumping them, mean that you can’t cut your corners or cheat and come in on too shallow an angle. Try to make sure your horse changes leg over the fence each time. Change direction and jump the figure of eight the other way too.
Blue – jump the first fence, make a shallow loop around the second fence then jump the third fence. This is the trickiest line of all as there isn’t much time on landing to sit up, organise yourself and change the bend. Usually you will get three strides between the first and third fence but as you get better at it you can make the angle you jump at more acute and the curve a bit deeper and you will probably end up with four or even five strides. The aim is to keep the curve smooth and flowing – no yanking round the corner!