Hello again, “Of Horse” audience! It’s me again, Baby Leggs Pony Blogger (Past Blogs “How to Treat Sarcoids,” “Hang On, I am Spooking”), and I love doing gymnastic exercises. A gymnastic exercise is any related distance between two or more jumps that is used to improve the jumping technique of both the horse and the rider. The jumps are made up of anything from a pole on the ground to an oxer.
Begin with cross rails than change up to low uprights. The number of fences on the line can be short or long. Only when the horse is happy jumping the shorter line should fences then be added. Keep it simple and know your distances. Know how to walk and measure lines. If the gymnastic is not set up properly, it is unfair to the horse. Gymnastics are a wonderful learning tool but can be catastrophic if set up incorrectly.
Do not be afraid to ask if unsure of distances. I am a young horse, and I can honestly say we rely on you people to measure for us. Get it right! Gymnastics help us horses improve our leg action both in front and behind, the strength of our canter on landing, and builds flexibility, confidence, balance and coordination. Remember, everyone, exercises and drills are the foundation for any horse that jumps (not just me). And for our riders, jumping gymnastics greatly improves rider position (equitation)and rider confidence. Riders must remember to stay out of our way when doing gymnastic exercises.
Stay in your two-point and keep the position all the way through. Let us jump it. Help us to get comfortable going down the line (“sea of rails”). Time spent working on gymnastic exercises and drills greatly improves our jumping style and our rider’s position. Jump style and equitation greatly affect performance on course. Make jumping gymnastics part of your horse’s routine. It’s great fun and remember to start easy and simple. Keep us happy jumping at all times. Until next time, this is Baby Leggs and I’m off to watch my person set up my gymnastic line…
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