Social media star Pony Nuts is a huge fan of top rider Ben Hobday, so she jumped at the chance to have a lesson with him. She rode her stunning new horse, Bella, and was really keen to get some tips on how to get the best approach to fences so she can ride even more clear rounds!
A classy canter
After Gracie’s warmed up Bella, it’s time to work on the most important pace for jumping – the canter. Jumping’s essentially an exaggerated canter stride, so the better your pony’s canter, the better his jump should be!
“When you’re in canter, you should always be thinking about the three ingredients you need to get a great jump – power, straightness and control,” says Ben. “It’s also a really good idea to regularly practise asking your pony to take longer, then shorter strides in the canter. It’s like moving through the gears on your bike, so you can create more power or cover a distance more quickly.”
Creating those gears
A really useful way to improve your pony’s canter is to ride a 20m circle and change gear every few strides. Ask him to take shorter steps so he’s in a low gear for five strides, then push him forward into a higher gear for five strides, and repeat. It’ll really get him stepping through with his inside hindleg!
To create a low-gear canter… slow down the pace by taking your shoulders back and using your outside rein to ask your pony to wait. At the same time, press your inside leg against the girth to create more power.
To create a high-gear canter… wrap your legs around your pony’s sides to encourage him to take longer steps. Allow a little with your hands, but make sure you stay upright in the saddle to help keep him balanced.
Find out how the rest of Gracie’s lesson went in PONY Spring, on sale 12 February.