Over this course of this year Eva has lost fitness mainly because of… well … *gestures vaguely towards the global pandemic*.
Right now she is beginning to gain fitness again and her and her field pals have recently moved into a new field that has more grass, so I am feeling the effects. The other night as I had an extra pair of hands and the jumps were up I decided to make the most of it and do something we haven’t done in a long time – grid work!
Its been a while but I was glad to find that Eva was feeling good and we could build up the grid without her struggling.
Why do grid work ?
Grid work helps the horse to be accurate and athletic over the fences, and helps the rider to develop an eye for distances and to improve their balance over the fence.
Eva quite enjoys grid work and I tend to find that she pulls me in and through them!
To warm Eva up, I focused on doing a lot of transitions and changing reins. When warming up the canter I do a lot of rising canter in order to get the canter forward and active.
On to the grid!
We started with pole, cross pole, pole, two strides, small straight bar. Starting with something like this allows the horse and rider to get in to the rhythm and warm up before building the grid up further.
The grid was then changed to a three jump bounce two strides to a spread. The spread was slowly built up and we finished at about 1.05m.
I could really feel the difference between when I had a forward active canter and she would pull me in to it, and when I didn’t “activate” the canter enough and she would struggle to make the two strides.
In the video on the second grid type (starts at 7 seconds in the video), I don’t have the canter forward enough that the two strides between the bounces and the jump don’t cover enough ground therefore Eva does a bigger than necessary jump to get over.
Another benefit of grid work, when you have the canter right it feels so smooth going through it. Therefore it gives you a good feel of how the canter should feel when jumping a course.
I’ve decided to call it a day on trying to event this year and maybe we might get to some dressage or showjumping but that is highly dependant on how the current pandemic plays out as a second lockdown almost seems likely at this point. Instead I plan on doing a reasonable amount of grid work and really focusing on getting our showjumping and dressage canter sorted!