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Do four to six repetitions, raising the pole a hole or two each time until the exercise is testing the horse, but not pushing him too hard or making it too difficult for him to get over the jump

2. Just before the pole, go into sitting trot. Over the pole, close the leg and soften the hand. 3. Do four to six repetitions, raising the pole a hole or two each time until the exercise is testing the horse, but not pushing him too hard or making it too difficult for him to get over the jump. 4. Rest for two to three minutes then repeat the exercise. 5. You can then progress to a short one-stride grid by adding another jump. 6. Do four to six repetitions of this, rest and repeat. It will ride as a short distance because you’re trotting in and working on getting the horse to contract a bit more quickly than usual. “We want to challenge the horse, but keep it well within his capabilities, so he’s gaining confidence,” Lucy says. “If you feel your horse getting a bit fatigued towards the end of each set, that’s okay. In an exercise such as this, we’re trying to train the horse’s neurological signals to fire faster, while increasing the lactic acid threshold.

“Sometimes riders panic because the horse starts to get clumsy, and they make the mistake of trying to do more repetitions, not understanding that the horse actually needs a break to allow the energy system we are working with (anaerobic) to sufficiently recover and refuel.”

BUILDING UP STRENGTH Building strength and power takes place through anaerobic exercise, which works on the horse’s lactic acid threshold. It’s similar to a person doing weight training, making successive efforts with breaks between for rest and recovery, which is important for the energy system to refuel and go again. “Laura’s horse lacks strength at this stage of his training, and he wants to increase his speed coming into the jump to compensate,” Lucy explains. “Gymnastic exercises are great for teaching horses to solve problems, to use their front ends effectively and to jump off their hocks. Remember, strength is the ability to exert force. Power is the ability to exert that force quickly. The higher the fence, the more strength and power you need.”

This two-fence strength and power exercise is another of Lucy’s ‘go-to’ exercises because it’s so easy to build and so difficult to ride! 1. Start with a placement pole on the ground, 2.2m to a vertical.

“Gymnastic exercises are great for teaching horses to problemsolve, to use their front ends effectively and to jump off their hocks.”