Gridwork can be an amazing way to start jumping bigger fences as well as giving your pony’s technique a boost.
You’ll need eight poles and six blocks or wings for this exercise. On the three-quarter line, place five poles 2.7–3m apart, with the middle pole in line with E and B. Position the wings or blocks either side of the first, third and fifth poles. Keep the three spare poles nearby to build the fences up later on.
If your pony keeps drifting to one side as you ride him down the line, you could add V-poles to encourage him to straighten up.
The warm-up’s the most important part of your session because it sets you up for success. To prepare for gridwork, a great exercise is to work on pushing your pony on and bringing him back to make sure he’s listening to you.
To start with, trot large around the arena and, on the long side, make your rises higher and push him forwards using your legs and voice. Keep a steady contact to help maintain straightness and let him know you’re asking for bigger trot steps, not canter. Then, on the short sides of the arena, sit deep in the saddle and squeeze the reins to slow your pony, but use your legs to support him so he understands you don’t want him to walk.
Have a go in canter when you’re ready and see how slowly you can go on the short sides without breaking into trot. Use your voice to help you, as this will be hard work for him to start with and he might not quite understand what you’re asking.
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