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Jumping Bigger Fences with Michaela Huntington

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RS-tor ambassador rider Michaela Huntington advises on when to start jumping bigger fences and how to take the leap.




Michaela says...


"Are you planning on introducing higher fences to your to your horse's jumping regime? You will know when you are ready – you will be confident of your horse's obedience, you will know his natural paces inside out, and when riding a course, will know when you can take a wide angle to jump a fence without knocking a pole, or move up the gears for a super-fast round!


Riding confidence comes with preparation and mutual trust, whatever the fence height.


Here are our top tips for safely jumping higher fences:


1.If your horse doesn't respond quickly to your leg on the flat, you will get into difficulties
when you start jumping higher fences. Make sure your flatwork is consistent first!


2.Don't panic about 'seeing a stride'; this will take your eye-line down, and may make you fixated
on a process that comes naturally with a good rhythm. Instead, practise getting the horse in front of your leg, and soft in your hand (e.g., you are riding forwards, yet quietly containing the energy). For higher fences, don't rush; just maintain a forward rhythm and you probably won't notice they are higher.


3.For very scopey horses, there's no reason not to approach a fence from trot when schooling –
this helps keep the horse focussed, and means you have more control over pace and direction. Taking sitting trot on the approach helps prepare the horse for the fence and encourages it to use its hocks.


4.Generally, it is better to get closer to a fence for take off than further away, which is when a
'stand off' jump occurs. This invariably unseats the rider or results in a knock down. Stand offs often occur because the pace was too forward going and 'flat', and the rider was a mere passenger; too many habitual stand offs mean you will lose accuracy and maybe face a huge confidence knock. Make a decision three or four strides away from the fence; choose whether to lengthen or shorten, or stay on the stride you have got, if it is good. If you anticipate a stand-off,
shorten your stride up.


5.Many riders choose to use a neckstrap for jumping stability and confidence, particularly if
however I believe very strongly against the use of old stirrup leather used as neckstraps, for safety reasons. With new neckstraps, the positioning can still be detrimental to riding; riders learning forward to hold a neck strap may not have the 'safety position' - their lower leg safely beneath their seat.


In comparison, the rider using an RS-tor rider safety aid instead of a neck strap has 'free' hands, e.g the hands are not 'fixed', limiting rein control. Plus, they're already holding the RS-tor handle (as the handle is heldlike a riding crop), omitting the need to grab a neck strap in an emergency."


To find out more about the RS-tor visit www.rstor.co.uk and enjoy jumping bigger fences safely!


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