MICHEL ROBERT'S TIPS
Long strides and short strides
When jumping a track, one is obliged to ask for continuous transitions by lengthening and shortening the canter. For example, when riding towards a water jump, one must lengthen the stride and ask the horse to stretch its body. If after the water jump one is faced with a vertical jump, one must shorten the stride and ride towards it in a different manner. To be successful jumping a track it is necessary to practice transitions on the flat at home.
One can train using poles on the ground in order to learn how to manage transitions and verify that the horse lengthens and shortens its stride while ensuring that the canter remains steady.
Set out a line of three poles on the ground to be ridden in 6 or 7 ‘normal’ strides (as a general guideline there should be 20 metres between the poles).
Let us, for example, try and increase the length of the stride, therefore decreasing the number of strides between the first and second pole and then shorten the stride and increase the number of strides between the second and third pole. One can then reverse the order of these transitions, initially shortening and then lengthening strides… When executing the exercise, one must always remain relaxed and well-centred in the saddle and looking at what is in front of us. Should one look down, the horse will consequently move more weight onto its shoulders. One must always try to keep up balance, pace and forward movement. When shortening or lengthening a stride one must relieve the horse’s back of weight. During transitions to a shorter stride, for example, one is closer to the saddle, without however ever weighing on the horse’s back; one opens one’s shoulders, while gradually and gently asking the horse to shorten its stride by gently closing our fingers on the reins. When lengthening the stride, the hands are moved slightly forward to allow the horse to stretch its neck, without ever losing contact with the mouth. Keeping our balance light and legs close to the horse, one gradually encourages it to increase the length of its stride.
Michel Robert for Team WOW