When I was an apprentice one of my lessons with Otis consisted of jumping from walk.
At first we all looked at each other in confusion. How on earth can you jump in walk? And why bother?
Anyway, I remember at the time being surprised at how effective it was in improving the bascule, that I stored it in my lesson library. I checked it out once in a livery lesson and we had some giggles but the following day one of the mares catapulted her rider into outer space as he walked had over a large branch and she thought she’d better jump it!
So the exercise has been on the back burner for a while, but I did subject Llani to it, much to his horror.
Anyway, I decided it was time for one of the cheeky ponies to learn how to jump from walk earlier this week.
The mare is cheeky and has been a bit difficult on the flat recently – ignoring aids and daydreaming – but we had a breakthrough this week with her rider being more receptive to the clues that happen before a misendevour , such as the ear flick or the drop behind the bridle, and acting upon it. We also looked at the pony keeping the rein contact yet still trotting forwards and not jamming on the brakes.
So our next lesson I decided would be fun, and we did some trotting poles to a single pole on the floor to practise transitions between trot and canter, and not letting the pony fall onto the forehand. Surpringly tricky, it took a few attempts to master it, but it really helped focus the pony.
Then I made a small cross pole and asked my rider to approach in a bouncy, active walk, then just before the jump she needed to kick to encourage her pony to jump, not trundle over the cross.
The pony leapt about three foot! She rounded her back and tucked all her legs underneath her. My rider rode positively away from the fence and we repeated the exercise with an upright until the mare was more consistent in her technique. She was soon jogging into the approach however, so we moved onto putting everything into practice over a normal sized jump.
With the bigger jump my rider found she could create a better trot and canter on the approach, with the pony less on the forehand than she’s been previously. The jump came from the canter rhythm, and the pony didn’t chip in as she likes to do – we have been working on that recently. I also felt the two were looking more together than they have done previously, and the pony had a more correct technique. She always picks up well in front, but she can be lazy behind.
I also find this exercise is really useful for improving the walk, as the horses tend to get a bit more energetic and start swinging with their hindquarters.