1 Always jump safely! Never jump with empty jump cups on wings, or leave them on the ground. Always make sure the jumps are properly made, and that the back pole is the highest. Ensure the ground is safe, not slippery or boggy, and shut any gates or doors to the manège or school. Never jump alone – always get a friend to jump with you, or even just watch.
2 You need to be able to steer to be able to jump – it’s the rider’s job! So make sure you can steer and keep your pony straight before heading for the jumps!
3 Don’t be in a hurry – let the jumps come to you. They will, you know!
4 Kicking your pony as he takes off can make him rush and hit the top pole with his front legs. Unless you feel he is going to refuse, sit still and leave him to it.
5 Keeping a steady, bouncy canter between jumps is what all top show jumpers do, and it pays off.
6 You don’t need speed for uprights. Riders in Puissance competitions often crawl up to the wall – it’s about impulsion (that bouncy canter again) and meeting the jump just right.
7 Keep your weight in your heels and your legs slightly further forward than usual when you go jumping (don’t forget to shorten your stirrups a couple of holes). A secure lower leg position will make you safe and secure in the saddle.
8 Practise combinations so that you don’t get caught out at shows. Aim for the middle, keep your pony straight and look over and beyond the very last jump.
9 Spread jumps need more implusion to get your pony over them, so you can afford to get a wiggle on for the last three strides.
10 Enquire whether you and your friends can hire a venue for some jumping practice. It will get your pony used to jumping away from home, and you will be able to use their fillers, which often cause ponies to freak-out at shows.
11 Look where you are going – because that is where your pony will go. As you jump one jump, your eyes should be looking at the next.
12 Throw your heart over the jump – be excited about jumping!
13 Warm up before jumping. All the top show jumpers do this as they know how important it is for their horses’ muscles to be warm to avoid injuries.
14 Don’t wait too long before entering a show, even a clear round one. You and your pony will get used to the atmosphere and your nerves will fade after a few outings.
15 If you get a disappointing round, ask yourself what you did wrong before blaming your pony. You can then correct things to improve your performance.
16 Start your schooling sessions with a cross-pole, just to give your pony (and yourself!) confidence, and to get him going forward.
17 Jump with good style. A rider who is well-balanced gives their horse or pony the best possible opportunity to clear the jump. Have some lessons!
18 Keep up your riding and jumping lessons to avoid getting into bad habits. Share them with friends to keep costs down, and watch each other so you can learn from each others’ mistakes – and successes!
19 Learn the length of your pony’s stride so you will know how many he will take between combinations.
20 Be enthusiastic about your pony’s jumping and remember to thank him for a good job – even if you’re not placed. Everyone likes to be appreciated.