Improve your jump off skills

If you watch top show jumpers in a jump-off round they look calm, they don't appear to rush, their riding style is still good and yet they knock seconds off the time. So how do they do it? More to the point, how can you achieve the same result?

HA0959Bob Atkins
There are two ways in which we can all improve our jump-off skills. One is by taking the time to watch good riders whenever we can and observe how they walk courses, how they ride them and then how they manage a jump-off.

You'll notice that in jump-offs they take shorter lines around the course and they also sometimes jump fences on angles.

Away from the pressure of competitions they also practise skills such as turns and jumping on angles, in order to prepare their horses for jump-offs.

So it's time for you to get some practice in. Here is an exercise you can do to practise taking shorter lines, making more economical turns and ensuring you are accurate in the lines you ride.

1. Set up a small upright over X, in the centre of your school, with the jump being parallel to the long side (ie so if you were to approach the fence in a normal straight-on way, you would be approaching from either B or E).

2. Starting from the A-K end of the school, ride a figure of eight over the fence, so that each time you are jumping it on a slight angle. You need to think about maintaining a positive canter rhythm and keeping your horse straight between your hand and leg - if you don't he could easily run out. Don't be too ambitious at first or your horse may run out at the fence.

3. Once you are both confidently jumping at a slight angle you can reduce the size of the figure eight so that you are riding a tighter overall figure, with slightly increased angles to jump from, so that it is more demanding for horse and rider. It's important that you keep everything smooth and positive, that you look up so that you are clear about the line you are taking and that you keep your horse between your aids.

4. If you miss, re-establish the jumping by making it less of an angle to the fence.
For more great jumping tips and exercises Read more