Gridwork Exercises For Horses – A Must Try Setup

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Gridwork Exercises For Horses – A Must Try Setup

Stuck for gridwork exercises? This is one simple gridwork exercise for horses that every rider must try! A great gridwork exercise for horses that rush, or for those looking to perfect technique on the approach, over the fences, and on the get-away from your grid, this should be a definitely be staple exercise in very rider’s routine!

Advantages of Gridwork Exercises

Gridwork exercises have a lot of advantage for both horse and rider! A great addition to routine, it can easily refresh your jumping sessions!

For your horse, gridwork exercises boasts benefits of improved;




Rhythm and balance between fences

Shape over fences (bascule)

Reaction between and on approach to fences

For riders, gridwork exercises can be beneficial for improvements in;

Ridden approach to fences


Balance between and over fences

Position between and over fences

Seeing strides

The Layout

Trot poles (each 4.5ft apart) – 9ft – Cross pole fence – 2 strides (36ft) – Straight bar fence – 1 stride (24ft) – Oxer fence

Why It Works?

The Trot/Canter Poles

The trot/canter poles set you up for the perfect striding into the first fence. As all rider’s know, once you make a mistake in a grid, it’s hard to correct so setting off on the right foot is essential for both your confidence and your horse’s confidence!

Placing the poles in front of the first fence will also help will straightness and rhythm into the grid, aiding balance throughout its completion. It can also help to back of horses’ who like to rush into fences, as rushing pole work often result in knocks.


The Cross Pole Fence

Starting will a cross pole will help to build confidence as you enter the grid. Grid can be intimidating for both horse and rider, so setting off with success is sets the combinations mind frame up for completing the entire grid! A cross pole will also help with straightness into the grid, reducing the chance of run outs.

For those more experience or confident with grid work, the cross pole can be easily switch out for a straight bar fence with v-poles or tramlines (parallel poles on the ground) to encourage straightness.


The Straight Bar Fence

Building the height down the grid encourage your horse to power through their hindquarters. After a confidence building first jump, the straight bar jump is a bit more intimidating and easily builds the height.

In addition, a straight bar fence can prevent a horse from bouldering heavily on the forehand with long, laboured strides. Straight bar fences require your horse to come close to the fence and pick up in front legs to clear the fence.


The Oxer Fence

The last fence in the grid is an oxer fence. The oxer will now encourage you horse to open up in their frame and create the perfect bascule shape.

Prepped with straightness and balance from the poles the cross pole, with the straight bar fence encourage picking up in front, the oxer promotes a powerful jump generated from the hindquarters. To cover the distance oxers also require the horse to lengthen their frame.

Make sure the fences become higher as grid progress to encourage correct form!


The Striding

Notice that the strides between fences decreases as you move further down the grid? This is to encourage collection from your horse.

Often when working down grid, our horse’s build up un-necessary speed, falling out of balance and on to their forehand. This can compromise jump techniques and lead to pole knocks and refusals.

Shortening the striding between fences means your horse will have to slowdown and sit back on their hind quarters, therefore generating power from the hindquarter to achieve a jump. Powering from the hindquarters whilst jumping promotes correct form, working over the back in a bascule, and reduces the chances of knocking a pole!



Step It Up A Notch

Too simple? Step it up a notch and start thinking about lead changes in your gridwork exercises!

Placing three jumps at the end of your grid (at a 4 stride distance) in a half-circle shape, one requiring you to turn, the other turn left, with one in the centre to go straight. Number your right, left and centre fence, 1 to 3, then grab a yard friend to call the numbers out at random. This exercise should keep you and your horse on your toes, getting you thinking about your next fences and your horse listening to you instead of predicting the next move!

Will you be trying out these gridwork exercises? Make sure to let us know – tag us in your next session on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! 

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