Quick turns on the jumping course can be challenging. In addition to being able to fly flawlessly through the jumping course, one of the most important tools for a jumping equipage is to be able to turn on a dime. Such a quick turn can be the deciding factor that secures you the victory. Here are some tips that can hopefully help make your twists and turns even sharper – and still safe.
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USE THE HELPERS CORRECTLY
Basically, it is about building up an ability and willingness in the horse to be able to move from both rider’s lower legs. In short, you make a quick turn by using your inner leg to support the horse, while the outer leg is used to move it and thus make the turn as small as possible. Outer rein should support this, while the inner rein gently leads the way. If you do not learn to use the helpers like this, it will be difficult ever to be able to turn on a dime.
BRING THE HORSE INTO BALANCE
The fastest equipages are the ones who manage to stay in balance and work together. Therefore, your horse should not only repond to your helpers. It should also be brought into balance before, during and after the turn. Here is s a brief guide on how to practice this:
1. Prepare your horse and bring it into balance by making a few good half halts. Without them you will get nowhere.
2. Next, try pushing the horse from your inner leg into your outer hand. It should remain slightly turned to the inside to be prepared for the turns on the jumping course.
3. Using your inner leg, let your horse move a little sideways, that is, outward in the vault and away from the direction of the turn. Train it first in walk and then in trot before attempting to do it in canter.
4. When you feel that you can easily move your horse outward, then you can start moving it inward. Use your outer leg to move the horse in the direction of the turn. So that the turn becomes smaller and therefore sharper.
5. You can work on making the turns even smaller. Do this by guiding the rein in the direction the horse is to turn. Just remember to always balance the outside of the horse as well.
6. Just before and just after the turn on the jumping course make strong half halts. This will allow your horse to turn on the few square meters and make it straighten its neck straight. That way, it will be ready for the next jump.
While it may seem illogical to first teach the horse to move away from the turn, and then to do the opposite – it is a necessity. You need to have complete control and a good grip on the outside of the horse on the jumping course before you can teach your horse to turn sharply. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your balance and you may be unlucky enough to crash.
Praticing sharp turns on the jumping course
One way to train the sharp turns is by starting out a few rails or putting a few jumps up in a square in the middle of the riding arena as shown in the illustration here.
Then it is just a matter of riding in octaves across. So, you get to practice the sharp turns to both sides and directly one after the other. Of course, it is a good idea to start small and practice them one at a time to not get overwhelmed on the jumping course.
STAY ONE STEP AHEAD ON THE JUMPING COURSE
Another important prerequisite is to stay one step ahead. This means that you have to look up and try to see the big picture – all the time. And yes, it really does require multitasking. Being able to turn a horse and at the same time try to figure out what to do once you have overcome the obstacle ahead is really a matter of coordination. And that’s probably what makes jumping such a challenge. It requires so much technique. You really have to be sharp to remember – and to do the right thing – at a very high pace.
GET INSPIRATION FROM TOP RIDERS
Need to see a few really quick turns on the jumping course? Then you should watch how 17 lightning-fast top-level equipages do it. For some it goes well – for others it not so smooth. It just testifies to how difficult a technique that lies behind – for both horse and rider. And how important it is in terms of winning any kind of jumping competition.