Just for Fun – Friday Fun Day!

For a change take a look at these fun sites. A little light reading for your weekend.

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Some Light Reading For Your Weekend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Jumping Position Balance – Top tips to stay in the centre of your horse

“Oh, I got left behind”, this is a common occurrence in the show ring and training arena. Here are some top tips to help you stay in the centre of your horse when jumping or riding in general.


Français : Concours de saut d'obstacle à Niort...

Establish a Solid Jumping Position (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Establish your Jumping Position


Finding a balance in your riding position over fences is like finding the ‘sweet spot’ of hitting a base ball. You know you have it when you have it. Everything clicks together. You are balanced over your base of support, your legs and seat, and you can feel yourself moving in balance with the horse.

It does take time, practice and effort to achieve the right balance. Luckily, there are many exercises which you can do to assist you.




  1. At the halt, experiment with your position. Start off at the halt and get in your 2-point. Establish your regular position and gently roll your weigh off your seat onto your lower leg and calf.
    • Can you maintain your balance?
    • Does the same amount of weight stay in your heel or do you roll the weight into your thigh and knee?
    • Do you balance on the reins or fall back into the saddle.

    Your lower leg is the foundation of your jumping/2-point position. Drop your weight down and keep your weight deep within your heel and calf. Most people grip with their thighs and which does not allow for a deep seat and heel. Keep your thighs, knees and ankles relaxed to act as shock absorbers.

  2. Let go of the reins and put your hands:
    • Out like wings.
    • Above your head.
    • Down by your knees.

    Can you still maintain your balance? Keep practicing until you can move your hands and arms without any disturbance of your position.

  3. Move from halt to walk, walk to trot in 2-point.
    The change in movement of the horse is great practice on how to maintain your balance and position. If you fall back and/or use the reins to balance on your horse’s mouth, then grab mane or use a neck strap to prevent your seat from falling back on the horse’s back.
  4. Make riding in 2-point part of your regular routine. You don’t have to be jumping to practice your jumping position. Some other exercises may be:
    • Ride in 2-point down the long side and rising trot on the short side (and vise-versa).
    • Try a 3 loop serpentine doing rising trot on loop 2 and 2-point on loops 1 and 3. Or even a 4 loop serpentine alternating between 2-point and 3-point.
    • Use your 2-point over trot rails.

These are just some exercises you can do. If you have an excellent exercise you would like to share with us, then please write a comment and send it to us. We’d love to hear from you.





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Trouble Shooting Your Walk- Using Placing Poles to Establish Your Walk

horse training, dressage training, horse riding, how to straighten your horse, laura Kelland-may, horse trainer canada, horse trainer ottawa

Make Your Horse Think Where His Hooves Are

Do you ever use poles to help your horse THINK where his feet are?


Most horses do not think they have big honking hooves at the end of their spindly legs. Help your horse out by educating him on where his feet are. Use placing poles to help establish a comfortable forward walk.


What the Judge Hates to See


As a senior judge, I have judged in the ‘trenches’ at schooling and training shows and at the other end of the spectrum as well and I can tell you, the first impression is a walk!


To improve your walk, get the horse moving forward. As the video says, they should be over tracking.


How to Improve The Walk


Walking aimlessly around doesn’t offer much to the horse. This just confirms in his mind he is doing the correct thing. Riding the walk is not a holiday! He must push forward and stride forward purposefully. Start by placing poles at various locations in your riding space. If you are riding on a circle place them at the 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions.  This gives you focus and gives the horse an opportunity to lift up his feet.




After the horse is walking over the poles quietly you can place them approximately 9 feet apart. So rather than having them at the 12, 3 and 6 position you can place them in a row, 9 feet apart. This is designed to help the horse get confidence over poles and to teach them how to pick up their feet.


Believe it or not, some horses do get anxious over a simple pole, so make sure you get the horse comfortable walking over poles before you set off on further jumping adventures.


Improve the Walk Even More


English: Muscles (part 2) of Equus Callibus (a...

Walking Over Poles Will Help Develop the Horse’s Muscles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you find you would like to improve the walk even more, give your horse more confidence and strengthen your horse, raise the poles slightly. Raising the poles offers the horse ample opportunity to raise his legs. This is often an over looked opportunity. Raising their hooves at a walk is similar to marching for us. It engages the muscles they require for jumping, dressage and other equestrian sports. Offering simple exercises which enhance the use of the leg lifting muscle and get it and keep it stronger for longer.












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Trouble Shooting – Expert Advice to Avoid Refusals

Français : Refus sur le tour d'obstacle sur un...

A Missed Distance is Bad But a Refusal Will Drop You Out of the Ribbons(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you enter the show ring your first concern is to get to eight jumps correctly and succinctly. Missing a distance is bad but a refusal will drop you out of the ribbons for sure. If you have a refusal don’t despair, it just means you need to go back and get some more practice in.

Top Tips To Avoid Refusals

The first thing riders must do is ride positively toward the fence. Having the idea a horse ‘may refuse jump 4 like all the other horses’ will only instill this notion (and it is a notion) in your mind and in your horse’s mind.
As soon as you feel your horse backing off from a fence, sit up and start a positive ride to the fence. There is no need for dramatic arm flapping and aggressive growling. Use your seat and legs to get your horse to the base of the fence.

If you need to use your stick, use it 3 strides from the fence. It makes no sense to use your crop when your horse is taking off. Why punish your horse for going to, and jumping the jump?

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At this point you should be happy your horse has jumped the jump. If you are in a show situation, you have probably dropped down in the placings because of the horse sucking back. If it is rushed, hurried or from a poor spot, remember to school similar fences at home.

When you are at home schooling, keep a steady rhythm and approach the same fence again. The horse should have a sense of confidence and the fence should be smoother and more rhythmic. Sometimes the horse may jump HUGE! remember to grab mane and reward the horse for his efforts.

Plan ahead to avoid a run-out. If you know your horse may run out the first thing is to put your stick into the hand your horse most likely will run-out on. For example if I know my horse will run out to the left, I will put my crop in my left hand.

Run-outs are usually caused by lack of confidence in the horse. Before heading to a show, prepare your horse by practicing obstacles which you may find at the show. Bright birch jumps white gates and scarey hay bales come to mind!

Keep your horse between your hand and leg. Have the feeling you are pushing your horse up a narrow hallway. Snug and equal pressure on each rein. If you feel the horse wobble left or right have your leg,seat, hand, stick handy to correct any deviation.

When you school your horse at home repeat a simple jump, cross-rail or pole until your horse continues straight and rhythmic over the jump.

If you have a nappy horse while on course, take your time and be confident in your riding. Nappy horses usually lack self esteem and with quiet confidence you will get your horse moving forward again. Maintain your rhythm with your seat and legs. If your horse decides to spin, turn him back to the direction he came. When he is more confident in his way of going then proceed to the jump.

Be aware if you are experiencing refusals, run-outs and nappiness, you may be over facing your horse and you may have to re-assess your program. Back off and start from the beginning with a solid foundation of poles and gymnastics to get the horse the confidence it needs in the show ring.

Laura kelland-May, Thistle Ridge Stables, hunter judge Canada, hunter judge ottawa, horse training, horse riding, dressage

Laura and De L’Aire at Thistle Ridge Stables

Do you have a horse which used to refuse or run -out? Write a comment and let us know how you corrected it! We;d love to hear from you.




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