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RIDER CHALLENGE: Ride the "Bounces"

This challenge exercise is suitable for riders capable of jumping lines of multiple jumps at the canter. It helps riders fine-tune their dynamic balance, improves their functional two-point position, and emphasizes riding accurate lines.


8 to 16 poles, plus standards or blocks, as needed—enough for eight obstacles. Set jumps as cross rails or verticals. Depending on the ability of horses and riders, this exercise may be initially introduced with ground poles or raised cavalletti. Optionally place a cone in each corner.


Begin by creating a square of ground poles or jumps in the middle of the arena at X (shown here in red and white). The corners of the square will point to A, C, E and B (in other words, create a diamond shape so that the poles are not parallel to the arena fence lines). Add additional poles (shown here in green and white) further outward from the square, on the diagonal.

Set a "canter approach" distance between the obstacles for a "bounce" (jump in and out with no full stride in between landing and take off). Depending on the ponies or horses participating, the distance between obstacles may range from 9 to14 feet. The distance will also vary if a trot approach is used. Start conservatively and adjust height and/or distance, as appropriate. Change canter leads as appropriate for horse and rider. Ride the exercise in both directions.


During warm up, take advantage of the set up to ride circles around the jumps in trot and/or canter in two-point. During the exercise, experienced riders may progress to riding the bounce line with hands on hips, or head, or out to the side. Be sure to tie reins in a know for any "no hands" work.


Pay attention to your building blocks (balance and alignment). Especially while in two-point, find the balance over your feet, allowing your joints (hips, knees and ankles) to remain mobile. Remember to breathe, throughout the ride. Use clear intent with soft eyes and a "balanced skull" to look ahead and plan your ride. Re-balance yourself at the end of each line to help rebalance your horse.


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