Grid-work to improve your horse’s jumping technique

The definition of grid work is: activity in equestrianism, having several, usually three or more, jumps in succession with a set striding between each, used to increase the athletic ability of horses and encourage engagement of the hind quarters. It's fascinating just how many different types of grids can be used to improve various aspects of a horse's jumping technique. Horse Hero celebrities demonstrate lots of different exercises, which are easy for you to try at home!

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Grid-work to improve your horse's jumping flexibility Grid-work to improve your horse's jumping flexibility
4* event rider Harry Meade, uses a jumping grid to help intermediate eventer Wild Lone, adjust his stride within a combination of fences. First of all though, Harry works on creating the right canter in his warm up. "Wild Lone is a loose and athletic horse, sometimes too loose", says Harry! This exercise consists of a bounce to a spread, to a second bounce, designed to improve a horse's technique for show jumping and cross country.

Bounces to improve your jumping, with eventer Harry Meade Bounces to improve your jumping, with eventer Harry Meade
Four-star event rider Harry Meade uses his 6 year old, Jovial Valentino (Tino), to demonstrate the usefulness of bounces in a jumping grid. Before he begins, the commentary of his warm up proves as valuable. Harry talks us through what he is asking the horse and how it will assist with his jumping. The grid itself is unusual, consisting of 6 bounces using one wing and one pole only, in alternating directions to create the illusion of a cross. This way the horse will learn for himself how to jump economically, namely in the centre of each jump!

Grid-work to create a 'sharper' jumping technique Grid-work to create a 'sharper' jumping technique
Four star event rider, Julie Tew, is a perfectionist about her jumping! Here she demonstrates an exercise she learned from show jumper, Ted Edgar, to sharpen your horse's front end over a fence. Riding her own lovely young eventer, Lord of the Owls, Julie starts by establishing the right 'feel' in canter over a pole (and deals with some spookiness too!). She progresses to a single fence and then on to a grid of four parallels. Julie offers some great tips and crystal clear explanations on how to improve horse and rider technique over a fence.

Susanna Bordone uses a grid to harness Carerra's power Susanna Bordone uses a grid to harness Carerra's power

Susanna Bordone is a multi-talented rider having represented Italy in both dressage and eventing at the European Champs '09. She has also competed in eventing at two Olympic Games. Working with Brynley Powell, Susanna jumps the 4* mare Carerra who she says is her most complete horse and also the most complex. Carerra has huge power which she can sometimes overuse when going cross country, so Susanna uses a grid to open her stride up and close it down again, whilst remaining in balance. The trick, she says, is to keep her hind end engaged while doing this. Susanna works efficiently to minimise the number of jumping efforts!


Susanna Bordone fine tunes Blue Moss before the Europeans Susanna Bordone fine tunes Blue Moss before the Europeans

Susanna Bordone rode in the European Champs '09 for Italy in dressage and eventing! We watch her fine tune 13 year old Blue Moss before the Champs', where Italy won team silver. Susanna explains that Mossy tries hard and is careful so the aim is to make life easy for her. She looks chilled but in fact she worries, so being clear and keeping her happy is paramount. The grid, consisting of 5 uprights and a parallel all on short strides, is designed to close Mossy up and engage her back end. There is also a wide oxer on the opposite side of the arena to open her up again. Brynley Powell helps Susanna with a few choice observations!


Georgie Spence uses a busy jumping grid to steady Tino Georgie Spence uses a busy jumping grid to steady Tino

Young Rider gold medallist Georgie Spence, works the eight year old Jovial Valentino through a busy jumping grid. Tino, who is aimed at Advanced in the next eventing season tends to be a bit forward going, so the exercise of six fences consisting of a bounce, to a one stride, to a bounce and a one stride, is designed to back him off his fences, keep him thinking and make him more agile. Starting with poles on the ground, Georgie gradually builds up the exercise so that each time Tino jumps it, a new fence has been added. Though the jumps are not big they have the desired effect of steadying him, and also making a good corner afterwards.


Fiona Price has a jumping lesson with Shane Breen Fiona Price has a jumping lesson with Shane Breen

Horse Hero's Fiona Price is game for most things and a lesson on a Grade A show jumping horse was definitely on her list! However, Lulu proved a bit more of a challenge than she expected! With the help of show jumper, Shane Breen, the first aim was to overcome Lulu's spooky nature. Then, using canter poles, Shane works with Fiona to shorten and lengthen the stride. A clever grid succeeds in getting Lulu's exuberance under control and allowing Fiona to do some jumping! "A tight turn into a line of fences stops horses from racing and chasing", says Shane, who insists Fiona gets control the landing stride to make the distance.


Show jumper Shane Breen trains an opinionated stallion Show jumper Shane Breen trains an opinionated stallion
This 8 year old stallion has been with Shane less than a year. Shane says he is very difficult in the mouth and rides like a 6 year old. Nonetheless, he is talented and aimed at Grand Prix soon. Starting with poles, then a grid and moving to a course, Shane provides a fascinating insight into how to manage such an opinionated horse. The main problem is he locks his jaw and runs to the fence. Shane offers ideas to improve rideability with this common problem, including exercises and how to influence with his position. Without a gadget in sight, Shane finishes by working on related distances which highlight the problem and also show the improvement!

Show jumper Shane Breen trains an opinionated stallion Flora Harris sharpens Bobs' jumping technique
Up and coming eventer Flora Harris achieved three 3* places with Law Choice (Bobs) and won the Young Rider Express Eventing in 2010. Bobs is a little person with a short stride and a big heart! The aim is to sharpen his technique in preparation for show jumping over the winter and their first Badminton Horse Trials in 2011. Flora focuses on getting Bobs in front of her leg with more activity behind, during the warm-up. Laid-back Bobs jumps economically through the grid. But when Flora puts up a skinny oxer with a high back rail, he has to use his shoulder and make more of an effort. Finishing on a big square oxer, Bobs picks up and really impresses!

Olympic eventer Vittoria Panizzon introduces 6 year old Freeby to bounces Olympic eventer Vittoria Panizzon introduces 6 year old Freeby to bounces
Italian eventer Vittoria Panizzon introduces 6 year old Freeby (half brother to Pennyz, 7th Badminton '13 and 11th London 2012) to bounces, to improve his agility. Freeby works long and low to start with, while Vittoria focuses on improving his balance through the transitions and the bounciness of the canter in preparation for jumping. The grid begins with a cross-pole. Single poles on alternate diagonals are added one at a time to gymnasticise Freeby's jumping technique and the grid culminates in two uprights for a conventional bounce. Full concentration is required from the spooky Freeby, who improves and ends on a clean sheet!

Vittoria Panizzon builds Woody's power with a parallel grid exercise Vittoria Panizzon builds Woody's power with a parallel grid exercise
Italian Olympic eventer Vittoria Panizzon uses a grid of parallels to help build Woody's power for show jumping. She stresses the importance of having the Advanced eventer thinking forwards in the warm-up and on her aids. Starting with a cross pole to an upright, Vittoria gradually builds the grid to three parallels, which she widens to reduce the distances between fences and increase the jumping effort. Vittoria supports Woody with her leg as the exercise becomes more complex and places a pole diagonally across each parallel to clarify the task. Woody's shape over the fence improves as he pushes off more powerfully.

GB Olympic eventer Daisy Dick trains Paddy to jump economically GB Olympic eventer Daisy Dick trains Paddy to jump economically
GB Olympic eventer Daisy Dick trains her future star, 6 year old Paddy, using a jumping grid to tidy up his technique. In the warm-up, the focus is on getting Paddy elastic over his back, responsive and supple as the grid requires a high degree of athleticism. Starting with a step-fence to move the canter forward, Daisy then approaches the grid in trot. The distances are tight so Paddy must use his brain to alter his stride without too much help from Daisy. As the grid gets bigger, Paddy backs himself up in between fences but loses impulsion. Eventually, he works it out and is able to coil his body and keep the power, producing a tidy and economical jump.

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