The ground had started drying out beautifully last week, but then Wet Wednesday arrived. Unfortunately after several soakings, I was teaching a brother and sister a jumping lesson, and the ground had deteriorated a bit. So I had to use my initiative and change the lesson plan.
We spent longer warming up, worked without stirrups, and did less canter work. The horses worked in well, so I found the best area of ground and set up a simple cross pole. On the approach I placed two poles perpendicular to the fence so that my riders had to focus on being straight on their approach.
The two of them are different levels, which makes it harder to teach exercises as it has to benefit both of them. For the elder, her horse tends to charge at the fence, so the poles give him a distraction. He also tends to go crooked in his canter when prevented from rushing. The poles make him stay straight through his body, hindquarters directly behind the shoulders. With a straight body, the horse can jump with a better bascule, and more economically because energy can flow easily from the engine to the shoulders.
For the younger rider, the poles gave him a goal in where he should be in canter, and it helps him aim for the centre of the fence, and it has the similar straightening effect on the pony.
Once they had mastered the poles on the approach I narrowed the train track and added another after the jump to give the riders a focus when riding away from the fence.
After riding the exercise a couple of times I made it into an upright. Keeping the canter straighter meant it was more rhythmical and both horses jumped more consistently, meeting the fence in a better place, and clearing the fence more easily.
To finish, we turned to another upright and the rider’s had to find their line, and use their leg and hand to maintain the straight line, and to keep the horse straight in their body. Both horses jumped beautifully, so I’m looking forwards to building on this around courses.