FEEL THE ATTITUDE
If you have a horse that runs at the cavaletti, you need to stop this. Make it from trot perhaps, and then on landing make a smooth transition to halt… and a pat… to encourage a relaxed and whoa-ing feeling. The lazy ones, on the other hand, need to land and get going! There is no knowing until you feel the attitude coming to the fence and on departure. The object is a good, consistent rhythm, tempo, straightness and balance, which are always the main positive focus.
Poles become a part of daily life, and whether a young horse or a Grand Prix one, they learn to train themselves to eye up distances and gain self-confidence whilst still allowing a good contact and willingness to the adjustability. They like to set related distances between simple fences. Having eyes on the ground is of the utmost importance. And to reiterate the feeling that Amanda has over the fences, a lot of video is used so she can see if what she is feeling is in keeping with the way each horse needs to be ridden.
STARTING TO JUMP
It’s time to start the jumping with fences of around 60-80cm built with not a lot of fill. There are both verticals and oxers, and the lines are simple strides usually between four and six, depending on the horse. Of course, at any time during any jumping efforts, if the horse reverts to what was being corrected as in a bid or a backward thought, then these idiosyncrasies are dealt with immediately. Initially it is a simple track of three to four jumping efforts, a break and then the same track again. It’s kept simple and easy, depending on the horse and how it handles the exercises.
Helen and Amanda don’t like to see their horses over-jumping, but if they do then the jumps are always low and very bland. This makes sure the horses don’t scare themselves as sometimes that is what over-jumping creates, especially over oxers where they may have the back rail down. By the same token, it’s also time to add interesting fill in to the fences; again they show them the fences and the new fills so that they are not surprised, and then with all the work on straightness and forward, there is no option but to confidently jump.
It’s amazing that a slack day and your horse gets a fright at a plank or a water tray and that sometimes can be a problem that takes a lot to correct. If it’s a bad weather day and windy and so on, it’s not a jumping day — it’s simply not worth it as a fright lasts a long time and has been the ruination of many a great horse.