Sometimes it’s good to do a fairly easy exercise that doesn’t really test horse or rider a lot but really builds the confidence.
A good one is a smallish fence in, say a cross pole or a small upright, and then a perfect related distance to a bigger fence, for example an ascending spread if you want to work on opening out the horse’s jump, or a square parallel.
Once you’ve been through the exercise a couple of times and know that your canter is perfect for the distance, have the second element made bigger and wider, then come again with the same canter as before and ride quietly forward to the second part, just as you did when it was smaller.
Because you don’t have to worry about getting a duff stride, you can concentrate on keeping the rhythm and just keep coming to the fence. This way you can get the second fence pretty big, which is very good for the confidence of both horse and rider.
You can also concentrate on your position, the release, and so on.
If you’re then really happy with the canter and how it’s all feeling, you can bypass the first fence and just come to the bigger fence on its own.
Photo of Francis and Easy Target by Katie Mortimore.