Saturday, September 10, 2016

Cross Training the Dressage Horse: Jumping with Friends

Some of you may have known that Guinness was trained as a hunter before I acquired him. I joke that he's basically the George Morris of horses. Jumping is easy for him, and he knows all the rules. I'm pretty sure he counts down his strides. He's embarrassed by poor turnout. And, he demands good hands and a solid release from the rider.
"Woman! You best wrap those polos evenly! And your lack of proper footwear is embarassing!"
If his rider is wrong, he rolls his eyes and not-so-gently reminds you to sit up and ride like less of a sloppy mess by bucking after the line. If the rider is out of his way enough, he'll turn himself inside out to nail the line, and canter away in perfect balance.

Honestly, it's really just absurd how much he enjoys the job.

Though his fetlocks make jumping regularly a bad idea, I do like to throw in a jump or two every few months or so just to let his brain have some fun. It's good dressage cross training (bulk up that butt!), and helps give him a break from my constant micromanaging (note to self, less of that mkay?).

So, when my friend Lauren (Who just started a blog! Check it out!) asked if I would mind being the safety-second and support person while she did worked her Training horse through some uphill grid work in the back field ... I leapt at the chance.
Go, Eddie! Eat that grid for breakfast dinner! 
Lauren had set the grid along a relatively steep grade on our back hill. The distances were set short, since we'd be jumping it from a slow canter/trot and heading uphill. She'd tossed the wooden liverpool few strides from the end of the grid, "just for fun."

Of course, the horses didn't realize we'd left these landmines for them. The moment we topped the hill they were convinced we'd laid a trap for them. Thank god for dressage training, though. I was able to keep Guinness very straight and moving forward, so the liverpool was never really an issue. And despite knocking everything down the first time through, he quickly remembered how to jump like the pro he is...


The jumps stayed super low, which was a blessing. It turns out jumping in a dressage saddle with long stirrups is maybe not the most secure of positions. I tried my best, but felt very behind the motion for the whole exercise. Thank god my horse is a total saint!

Maybe when the ground gets softer, we'll do this again...

Have any of your done any great cross training lately? Does doing something different help your horse feel more confident or happy in his work? Do you ever forget to hike up your dressage length stirrups before jumping?

21 comments:

  1. If by "cross train" you mean "try anything that sounds remotely fun" then I do that all the time! Love Pig's enthusiasm!!

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  2. What timing of this post... Griffin isn't as GM about jumping (yet) as Guinness, but he's working on it. (Pig, teach him your ways, I won't mind.) After a (yet another) good dressage ride Thursday I took him to the back field to jump and he was The Happiest. Hiking up my stirrups 3 holes seems to do the trick for me and jumping him following a dressage ride seems to work better for him. He was even more rateable and balanced moving through our little course. Yay for mixing things up. Must do more.

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    1. Love it! The dressage over jumps is REALLY helpful!

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  3. Omg, haah! He looks so excited about those wee speed bumps!

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  4. Go Guinness! I've started hacking out- does that count?

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  5. he looks REALLY excited to be doing that!

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  6. I used to event so that was obviously cross training, but now in jumpers I still do!. On occasion I will tag along for XC schools and I almost always do 1 trail ride a week and one flat session a week (at least, usually more)

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    1. Aw yes! I think jumpers really benefit from getting out of the ring... if they're sane enough. ;)

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  7. I've been doing some cross training lately by jumping too. Like, jumping just by myself. Sans horse. Unintentionally. It is.... not effective.

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    1. sounds like you need to stick with it a bit longer :P ;)

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    2. I'll teach you some exercises from my old hurdling days. We'll get you up to speed in no time. ;)

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  8. Go girl! Come to the dark side! Pig clearly wants to :)- you guys look great!

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    1. Lol, Pig would love to come back to the hunter world. Poor kid... stuck in the land without fences.

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  9. Yay jumping! Courage is most definitely not the George Morris of jumping so uh, yeah, we don't do that much.

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  10. I try to to ground poles/cavaletti about once a week, and we also trail ride at least once a week... so that's sort of like cross training, right?

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  11. Riesling did the same thing when I pointed him at jumps. I was like you moron you've been trying to drag me to jumps all the time during our dressage schools, you should know to pick up your feet.

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  12. Cross training = the best. I've got a jumper that we put through the dressage paces to "remind" him to listen

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