Gridwork is a great way to sharpen up your horses jumping technique, as well as improve their rhythm. Carrying out regular gridwork exercise as part of your normal exercise routine is a surefire way to build up backend muscle, ultimately increasing power. It also helps to increase confidence in youngsters, as grids are inviting to their eye.
Different gridwork routines should be used with different horses; if you have a rushy horse that takes strides out then you should shorten the distances between jumps to make them slow down and “sit back” in themselves – this will also help to create more power and lift.
It’s important to remember that gridwork isn’t about how high you jump, rather it’s about straightness and accuracy.
Exercise #1: Basic setup
Start with a placing pole one canter stride away from the first fence (which is ideally a cross pole as they’re more inviting) and place two additional jumps one canter stride away from each other. Your setup should end with another placing pole. This exercise is great to start with as it will encourage the horse to become more rhythmic.
Exercise #2: Introduce bounces
Put a placing pole at a bounce distance (~four human strides) away from the first fence to encourage your horse to think about where they’re putting their feet. Add another fence one canter stride after the first.
Exercise #3: Progress into a series of bounces
Use three fences to create bounces. Bounces make the horse snap up in front while ensuring they push back on their hocks to create enough power to take off again. This layout improves accuracy and technique which will help with reducing the number of poles your horse knocks down.
Exercise #4: Progress to a grid
Once your horse is confident with bounces progress your exercises into a grid. Start with three fences separated by bounces, then an upright fence two canter strides away followed by a square oxer. This routine will encourage your horse to stretch over its back, improving flexibility.
I hope you enjoyed these routines. If you have any questions be sure to leave a comment below! If you’re looking for other exercises be sure to check out our pole work series.