Lesson Plan–Gymnastics for Jumping Straight

Posted on Nov 6, 2014

Lesson Plan – Gymnastics for Jumping Straight

Alita (Bunny) Hendricks

USPC National Examiner

Sunshine Region RIC 2014

Level: Variable (Jump heights may be adjusted)

Class Size: Variable

Time: 1 hour to 1 hour 30 min. depending on size of class

Reference: “Points for Riders- Gymnastics- Systematic Training for Jumping Horses” by James C. Wofford, pp 106-109

Equipment: 3 pairs of standards, 10-13 rails

Equipment set up: Set the three pairs of standards with a ground rail between them on the center of a large arena to facilitate approaches and landings on either direction. Measure 40 ft from the ends of the inside rails and 50 ft to the outside rails. The jumps will be on angles to each other. These will be rails/jumps A and B. Set up standards only for what will be rail/jump C with the ends of the inside rails at 50 ft and the ends of the outside rails at 40 ft. This creates three ground rails/fences at angles. These are to eventually be jumped in a straight line so the fences will be at an angle. Have the extra rails set nearby  to be added later.

Objective: Rider will apply the aids to influence the straightness and thereby the balance of the horse at the canter through a progressively built gymnastic exercise. Straightness and balance are interrelated.

Introductions: Briefly introduce yourself. Ask riders to introduce themselves and to include the following information: Name, Age, USPC Certification Level, Mount’s Name and Age, How long they have been a “team”, What kind of work and at what level they have been doing, On the average, how many days a week do they ride on a regular basis, Have either Mount or Rider had any illnesses or injuries recently, (i.e. just getting over the flu, or horse had colic surgery 9 months ago). These questions give an idea as to the experience and fitness levels of both mount and rider to do the work of the lesson at hand and instructor can adjust or individualize the plan accordingly.

Explanation: Rephrase the objective. This is a terrific advantage when riding a course. The straighter your horse is in an approach and recovery of a fence or a line of fences, the more balanced he will also be. If your horse drifts to the left, as he takes off for the jump, you must keep your left leg at the girth at this moment and open your right rein slightly and press slightly against his/her neck with your left rein, thus keeping him straight. Push your horse straight with your legs, do not try to pull him straight. Land in a light three-point position with your hands at your horse’s withers and squeeze the reins without pulling back. Do not sit down, or lean back and grip. This will cause your horse to run through the exercise in a long and flat stride.

Warm up: Walk, trot, canter asking for work and transitions to be done in half seat. Progress to the exercise set:

A.) Start with the two rails on the ground between two standards, A and B, set as described in diagram. Jump these individually first, then in a straight line, keeping in mind to jump in a straight line. The fences will be on an angle.

B.) Add ground rails between fences A and B, forming a chute, and canter through in each direction. The distance from center to center in A and B should be three quiet strides.

C.) Once you become adept at maintaining a straight line from A to B, add the third rail at C and ground rails between B and C. Practice going back and forth until it becomes easy.

D.) Remove the rails on the ground and practice the exercise in both directions, keeping your horse straight with your legs.

E.) The rails between the standards may then be raised at any appropriate height (starting low and raised in 3” increments to increase the difficulty).

Summary: Today we worked on an exercise that will help you keep your horse straight and thereby balanced in course work. We used the following aids If your horse drifts to the left, as he takes off for the jump, you must keep your left leg at the girth at this moment and open your right rein slightly and press slightly against his/her neck with your left rein, thus keeping him straight.  What was new or different or particularly useful or effective for you today?

Homework: Individualized suggestions.