Doubles are two fences on a straight line that are either one or two strides apart. There’s normally at least one double in a showjumping course, so it’s important to jump them well to keep those poles up!
As there are two fences to jump one after the other, your accuracy and riding become even more important – if you make a mistake over the first fence, it’ll be trickier to clear the second. But don’t worry, there are a few simple things you can try to make sure you get it right every time!
First things first
Before you start jumping, it’s super-important to think about your canter. When it comes to jumping doubles, impulsion, not speed, is key. This means your pony needs to have a forward, bouncy canter and be in front of your leg. You can achieve this in a number of ways while you’re warming up by…
- riding plenty of transitions to keep your pony focused and listening to your aids
- lengthening and shortening his canter stride to make sure he’s forward off your leg
- riding half-halts to keep him balanced and prevent him rushing
Once you’ve achieved a bouncy canter with plenty of impulsion, your pony’s less likely to land from the first fence and run out of energy before the second, which normally results in a refusal or run-out. Keep his impulsion to jump clear through the double.
Top tip – Keep the fences small until you’ve mastered it – it’s more important to focus on technique than the height of the fence you’re jumping!
Build it up
If you’re not confident jumping doubles, the best thing to do is take it back to basics. Start with two poles on the ground, one stride apart.
Canter your pony over the poles. Think about maintaining a balanced rhythm and staying straight across both.
Once you’ve got the hang of riding over the poles, build a small cross-pole in the place of the second pole and ride through again. When you’re confident with that, build the first pole into a small fence, too.
Top tip – Your pony might want to jump the poles, so be prepared to go with him in your jumping position if he does.
Eyes on the prize
Looking down at the fence as you jump is an easy habit to get in to, but it’s especially important when you’re riding doubles to remember to keep your eyes up. Look at the first fence on approach and, as soon as your pony starts to take off, look up at the second part of the double.
As well as letting your pony know where you plan to go, it’ll keep you straight and balanced through the double for a good jump out. Looking down means you’ll risk a wobbly line and be more likely to have the second part down.
Ace your accuracy
Accurate riding will help you loads when it comes to jumping doubles well. A wonky approach to the first fence will affect your line to the second and may result in a run-out.
Always aim for a dead-straight approach to doubles and meet them in the middle – use the colours on the poles to guide you to the centre. Keep both legs wrapped firmly around your pony’s sides and an even contact on the reins, and you’ll stay on a straight line all the way through and jump out cleanly.
Top tip – Accuracy is especially important if you’re riding a course, as a poor jump out of the double will also affect the way you ride to the following jump on course.
As well as thinking about how you’re jumping the fences, it’s just as important to think about how you’re riding in-between them, too.
Tipping forwards on landing from the first fence leaves your position insecure when it comes to jumping the second. This can encourage your pony to refuse as your balance shifts forwards. Stay secure by thinking about each part of your body…
- head – imagine there’s a piece of string tied to your riding hat, pulling your whole body up and stopping you from looking down at the fence
- shoulders – pull them back on landing from the first fence to prevent you tipping forwards
- legs – push your heels down to keep your lower leg forward and secure. These are your anchors to keep your whole body balanced in the saddle
All ponies have slightly different lengths of stride, depending on their height and movement. Check out our stride guide here.
Top tip – Use a tape measure to work out how long one of your paces is. That way, you’ll know you’re striding out the right distance without needing to get the tape measure out every time