Now that you are comfortable with the sensation of jumping over a single obstacle, it’s time to move on to multiple obstacles in a row also called a grids or grid work. Grid work prepares you for jumping full courses; it also develops your position, helps you learn to find the correct distance to each jump, and helps your horse’s rhythm and shape in the air.
A basic grid to get started with is two ground poles 50 feet away from each other, placed perpendicularly to the short side of the arena. Trot through the exercise from both directions switching between posting and half seat while crossing and between the poles. Throughout the exercise remember to keep your eyes up and focused on where you want to go.
Another great exercise to keep your horse thinking is to start with four trotting poles placed 4 to 4 1/2 feet away from each other, but instead of lying flat on the ground place a block under one side of the pole on alternating sides. Trot though this exercise in both directions in a half seat and while posting.
The last trotting pole grid is the most creative and probably the most difficult. Lay 12 or as many poles as you can around your arena. Face the poles at different directions and set varying lengths between them. This exercise is tricky because you have to keep your horse straight over each pole, maintain an even pace, and look for the next pole. Practice your two point position, posting, sitting, and standing.
Gymnastics are just two or more separate exercises put together to allow you to work on your position and let the horse jump without having to find a distance. In the first jumping grid, set out three or four trotting poles spaced 4 to 4 1/2 feet apart or adjusted to your horse’s particular stride. From the end of the trot poles place your cross rail about 8 feet away. Enter the gymnastic at a trot looking ahead at your jump while keeping your horse straight. Post over the trotting poles, getting into a half seat once you cleared the last pole. Let your horse take you over the jump, keeping your hands half way up and pressed into his neck with your weight in your heels.
Questions and Challenges
If your horse ducks away from the jump after the poles turn him the opposite way he wants to go then circle back around and try again. Keep him between your legs and hands. If he is still running out, go back to getting rid of your horse’s magnets until he is ready to move on. If he rushes at any point during the exercise instead of jumping turn your horse over the poles and circle back around until he isn’t anticipating the jump . If he is rushing before you even reach the poles, stop and back him up until he is giving to your hands and feels soft in the bridle, then begin again. If your horse is slow and lazy go back the previous trotting exercises keeping him going forward. If he is really lazy ride with a whip to get him to move out. Ask him to trot by squeezing his sides with your legs, if he hasn’t trotted kiss to him, if he still hasn’t moved forward give him a tap with the whip. Once he is trotting at the pace you want continue practicing the gymnastic.