ISSUE 66
MAY 2021
SANTIAGO
SINGS

FOR MATTHEW DOWSLEY
SAM JEFFREE
MAN ON A MISSION
SHARON JARVIS FINDS
HER UNICORN

PLUS: GRACE KAY, THE HORSES OF GILI, CELEBRITY CUTTING CHALLENGE, PIGGY MARCH, WILLINGA PARK’S GOLD BUCKLE, ROGER’S TIPS FOR THE MEDIUM TOUR, KERRY MACK’S DRESSAGE FOR JUMPERS, THE INS AND OUTS OF BUYING A HORSE, A NEW APPROACH TO LAMENESS DETECTION & MY FRIEND FLICKA

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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ISSUE 66

CONTENTS

MAY 2021
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A few Words

FROM THE CHAIRMAN

ROBERT MCKAY

Ryan's Rave

SELECTION DIFFICULTIES FOR AUSSIE DRESSAGE RIDERS

BY HEATH RYAN

Dressage

MATTHEW DOWSLEY & SANTIAGO NAIL IT

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Campdrafting

BUCKLE UP FOR A WILD TIME AT WILLINGA PARK

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Dressage

GRACE KAY GOES HER OWN WAY

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Special feature

THE INS & OUTS OF BUYING A HORSE

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Cutting

SPARKS FLY WHEN CUTTING MEETS RACING

BY AMANDA YOUNG

EQ Journeys

HELPING THE HORSES OF GILI

BY ELLIE JOLLEY

Eventing

SAM JEFFREE, MAN ON A MISSION

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Dressage

10 TIPS FOR RIDING THE MEDIUM TOUR TESTS

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE / EQ LIFE

Eventing

PIGGY’S SUCCESS KEEPS MARCHING ON

BY ELLI BIRCH

Health

THE RIDDEN HORSE PAIN ETHOGRAM

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

Lifestyle

MY FRIEND FLICKA

BY SUZY JARRATT

Para Equestrian

SHARON JARVIS FINDS HER UNICORN

BY ADELE SEVERS

Training

DRESSAGE FOR SHOWJUMPERS

BY DR KERRY MACK
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Dressage training for jumping horses is, to a large extent, training to improve the balance and rideability of the canter. Jumping is all about the canter. A jump is just a bigger canter stride.

Dressage is usually not the favourite activity of jumping riders, however, the demands of the modern show jumping courses with the light gear and technical lines will always advantage the well-trained horse.

If dressage is training for balance, suppleness and obedience, it is obvious that dressage training will help jumping horses achieve their best. Jumping horses need to be adjustable at the canter. They need to be able to lengthen and shorten the canter fluently, and in balance, without shortening the neck. Just as with dressage horses, the action of the rein must go through to the hind leg, not be absorbed in the neck.

When you ride your jumping horse, it takes the same time (albeit with a bit more effort) to ride him and train him to be a more supple, more adjustable horse who can go straight, and so have his hind legs — which are his engine — right underneath him for maximum power over the fence, as it does just to keep him fit. So why not do both!

Think about the responses that you want on the course — these are the responses that you should train in your schooling. On the course he needs to be able to lengthen and shorten the stride and keep an uphill balance, keeping the hind leg active and underneath him. You want to be able to turn up to a fence keeping the power, not losing the power out through the shoulder as if you were doing a handbrake turn in a car and letting the wheels spin. So, you need responses to the leg to go forward and also yield sideways, as well as rein responses to slow down and turn. You can train the basic response at walk and trot first so he understands.

In fact, it is simple to improve the horse’s balance with the traditional lines of the riding school. You have to do this patiently, step by step. Each day, each week.

Circles are a very effective way to improve the horse. When you ride circles it’s relatively easy to keep the inside hind leg under the body of the horse so he carries the weight on his hind legs. Often an untrained horse on a straight line will naturally carry his hind legs a little to the inside, not carrying weight. When you turn him in a tight line, he is more likely to let the hind quarters fall out, also losing power. The horse is straight at canter when both the inside front and hind leg travel in the same line. The rider will help the horse to become straight by paying attention to riding a little bit shoulder-fore position. You can use the inside rein to move the shoulder in a little, or you can use the outside rein like a wall, with a little indirect rein, to move him across so that the inside foreleg is on the same line as the hind leg.

Start with a circle that is an easy size for the horse, maybe 20 metres diameter. Try to ride an accurate circle, not some bodgy shape where he can bulge out towards the gate without you noticing it. It’s best to ride it from a fixed point, for example a fence post along the side of the arena, or a witch’s hat. Of course, riding an accurate circle is a difficult enough thing to do, and is clearly going to help you ride the curve on your course. With all these circle exercises, start with the easy side, but remember to change the rein so that you do it all on both reins.

When you are happy with the accuracy of the circle you can start to increase and decrease the size of the strides. Imagine the circle in two halves (Exercise 1). One half longer steps, one half shorter steps. Initially make the transitions fairly small — just a bit longer, and a bit shorter. Allow the steps to become longer and shorter over a few strides, step by step, so that the transition is balanced. Think about making the steps longer from the hind leg jumping through when you use your leg, rather than letting the horse fall forwards lengthening his neck. When you are training for more collection, it is always good to first increase the energy (longer steps is one way) and then take that energy and keep it as you make the steps shorter and ask the horse to become more collected. If you just try to collect from your normal canter there is more risk that you will just make the steps slower and smaller, not actually more collected with energy and balance.

Think about him coming up in the wither in front of you as you make the steps longer… and then coming up in front of you as he makes the steps shorter. As he develops capacity to make these adjustments, you can ask for bigger transitions. The longer steps get longer and the shorter steps shorter. Then you can make the transitions quicker, so that the changes in the length of stride happen over fewer steps. Three steps to lengthen and three steps to shorten.

Then imagine the circle in four quarters (Exercise 2). A quarter of a circle lengthen, then shorten for a quarter and lengthen again. This exercise will also help you make him responsive to the aids.

As he gets more advanced, you can get him tuned in to the aids you might want on course, for example when you want him to go when you lean forwards, and you want him to balance and collect as you sit back. To tune him into these aids with your body, use your body aid before you use the leg to go forward, and lean back before you use the rein to shorten him. Repetition off this will help him understand what you want. I think that good horses will learn to read these signals we often give unconsciously with our core muscles. When you have the feeling that your horse can read your mind, he has probably read and reacted to the subtle signals you have given him with your core muscles.

You can train him to be tuned to these aids. This is especially useful when the courses get harder and you are having to change the stride quickly and without disturbing him too much. For example, when you have jumped that big open water and you need to rebalance for the big straight fence coming up. You want him to come back with his hind legs under him and plenty of energy; you don’t want to wrestle him back just with the reins and find the neck shortens and the energy is lost.

For a really advanced version of this exercise, turn you circle into a diamond or a square (Exercise 3). It’s best to have a marker at each corner so that again you can ride it accurately. You want to have the same accuracy that you want if you are riding against the clock. Now ride one side longer steps, and turn centred on the marker really trying to get the horse to turn around the hind leg. The shoulder turns around the hindquarter. You might again want to use the outside rein to turn him, and you may want to keep him fairly straight. You don’t need him to be doing a pirouette like a dressage horse, but you do want him to turn with that engine underneath him. You can use the outside rein to turn him, with it acting like a wall to control the shoulder. The outside rein used this way helps to roll him back over his hindquarters and can allow the rider to be softer with the inside rein, which then allows the inside hind leg to step more under the horse. This is more sophisticated riding.

Another great exercise based on circles starts with a comfortable large circle, maybe 20 metres in diameter. Ride the best canter that you can get. Energetic, even into the bridle, straight, balanced. Then gradually ride smaller circles, 18m, 16, 15… see if step by step you can make the circle as small as you can, while keeping the quality of the canter (Exercise 4). Keep the canter energetic. Don’t let him slow down too much. With practice (training) your horse will learn how to collect the canter. He will become able to keep his balance with shorter strides, compressing his body. This is training for balance. Don’t be upset if you find that if you make the circle too small he loses his balance and trots. He is not necessarily being disobedient. He needs to find a way to balance. Just allow the circle a tiny bit more, ensuring that you are not pulling the inside rein too much, while using the outside leg like a wall too, and help him find a way to balance. A very well-trained horse may be able to collect and balance into a 6m circle. This will really help you against the clock.

This kind of training to improve the balance and athleticism of the horse can just proceed as part of the overall training. Step by step, day by day, week by week. It is really rewarding and when you get it, you will find it interesting. Your horse will be nicer to ride and is likely to be more successful too.

Have fun. EQ

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