An Interview With Horse Whisperer Carol Sharpe - Nihi, Sumba
News & Events Interviews
We regularly set up grids to work on striding and elasticity. Gymnastic exercises are much more important for horses than scope testing or even jumping courses, they actually give the horses the skills to jump around said courses.
This grid is bounce, bounce, two stride.
We find the best striding for bounces is about 3 human strides, not too big or too small, just an easy, natural stride.
For a two stride double, we use 11 human strides.
As a general rule of thumb, we then have 1.5 paces for the horse’s take off and landing.
Using this grid, you’re going to place one jump, walk 3 paces and place the next fence, another 3 paces to the next fence and then 11 paces to the last jump, we made it a spread in this grid but you can do with it what you like! Often, horses like to power for an oxer and get a good run up, this teaches them that they can also have a short bouncy canter, making them more versatile for tight turns in jump offs and more capable of jumping the bigger fences off any stride!
We set them out as poles first to see how the horse takes the pole from canter. Grids are hard work for the horses so we try to make them the right striding for the horse so they’re not stretching or shortening for each fence. If they are clipping the poles or leaping, we will bring in or stretch the distances and then make sure they’re happy before putting the fences up.
We put the jumps up one at a time as this helps the horses establish their striding without putting them off, because they come to a row of fences that they can’t really see properly until they get right on top of them.
With this grid, we put the third fence up first, this kept it easy to come to for the horses.
Then, we put the first jump up, essentially making it a shorter one stride double.
We added in the second fence, only if or when the horses were happy and confident, you could add in the last jump before the middle bounce if you thought your horse would struggle.
Last, we added the forth fence, (in this case, the spread).
Please feel free to drop your version of this grid, or a link to it, in the comments of the blog or post it to our Facebook page, Hesteyri Horses. We would love to see others finding our exercises useful!