An exercise by Jim Wofford

JW exercise 2

So todays post is one I’ve been meaning to post since I wrote the review on “Modern Gymnastics” By Jim Wofford.   As I mentioned in that post I have used that book (ok its predecessor but still…) off and on since I can remember and I can say it is especially coming in handy now!

I wanted to do a blog showing the first jumping exercise in the book because It really is the foundation of the gymnastics that follow and even the simple starter exercise really makes a horse think!  It starts as basic trot poles , then trot poles to a cross rail or a small vertical and as the horse progresses you add in a second jump thats a one stride.

In the video below Cash and I haven’t made it to the second jump yet (the weather is really killing that mojo!).  He is still figuring out how to place his feet with the ground poles while also maintaining impulsion and focusing on the jump.

In other words he’s learning how to chew gum, walk, pat his tummy and rub his head all at the same time. It’s a little over whelming for him. And I can say I’m a tad bit rusty myself for trotting into jumps so I didn’t exactly help as much as I probably should have.

It takes a lot more balance and coordination on both the rider and the horse ‘s part to do a gymnastic correctly, especially if they are trotting in. When a horse canters into a jump he pretty much already has his legs going in the right order to prepare himself for the jump. All he really has to do is lean back on his haunches, bring his front end up, push off with the back end and he’s over.

Now trotting in, his legs aren’t in any good cadence that makes it easy for him to take off. He has to go from a trot stride to getting his legs to gather underneath him, lifting his front feet off the ground and getting his back feet under him equally to push off effectively and make it over the jump.

It’s ALOT more coordination on their part! And well Cash is a boy…multi-tasking is not his forte (don’t boo me, boys who read this blog! You know it’s true…the women certainly do!)

Alright that sounded a bit confusing to me even as I typed it so I hope it makes some semblance of sense. The best way I can tell you is on a seasoned horse first canter the jump and then trot the jump. You will feel the horse is much smoother on takeoff in the canter then in the trot if you pay attention to what his legs are doing.

Cash and I have a long ways to go before we master this gymnastics exercise in it’s entirety but that’s the fun of training! I hope you enjoy this little snippet of the book so you can see a tad of why I think it’s such an awesome book to use for anyone jumping horses.



**note** when you are setting up the exercise please please please use a measuring tape and check that both sides of the poles are at the correct distances. Don’t just guesstimate. Accuracy really does matter here! take the extra 10 minuets to double and triple check measurements and be ready to reset them if the horse knocks any of the poles. It really is worth it in the end.

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