My post on the radical change to using a parallel as the very first practice fence was pretty popular, and really got me thinking.
In a lot of ways it is, for non-Pro riders, just as much about building a fence that makes the rider ride in a certain way, as it is about the horse’s jump.
The type of fence demands a certain way of riding the approach, which reaps rewards.
Then I realised that I had subconsciously done exactly the same thing with my latest exercises built for me to play over at home.
The rustic parallel looks pretty insignificant, which in fact makes us both pay attention! It rides really well off the loop-back approach. The curve to the skinnyish upright, which I progress to, is on 3 forward strides.
The bright spread fence is 1/2 way down the long side, and jumpable from both ways. Because it has a little bit of a spread to it, it encourages me to ride forward to it, rather than to get picky in front of it. I have deliberately left the ground lines off to try to encourage us to get in a little closer. N.B. This ‘hog’s back’ fence is a very specific fence being used here for a specific reason. It is not allowed to be built in warm-ups, because the back rail is lower than the highest point, and should always be used with care, and ideally not for novicey horses and/or riders, because it is difficult for the horse to read.
There’s a curving 3 stride line to a very skinny rustic V on this one, from one direction, for when I feel like testing the steering and honesty!
It’s worth having a good think about your good and bad habits when it comes to jumping, and setting up exercises that help you to work on your weaknesses as well as your horses.
For instance, just a few examples:
If you like going on fliers (one or both of you!) then deliberately shortish distances will get you both used to keeping the canter contained and getting to a good/average spot rather than a long one. (Consistent long ones tend to lead to a flatter jump, not ideal!)
If you get hooky and worried then a perfect distance to a small ascending parallel, which you can progressively build bigger (if you want to), will encourage you to ride forward with confidence.
If you often see a long/flat one and the horse routinely chips in, then keeping the distances shortish so that the horse learns to trust the spot you get to, should help.
Of course, the quality of the canter on the approach is of paramount importance, but you can still do a lot with the precise distances in related distances and grids, to build confidence and improve the jump.