Travel & Outdoor
Practical Horseman

Practical Horseman Practical Horseman Extra Volume 16

It presents step by-step training programs and showing advice from recognized experts in hunters, jumpers, equitation, dressage, and eventing, along with money- and time-saving ideas on health care and stable management.

United States
Active Interest Media
Read More
$8.40(Incl. tax)
$28.04(Incl. tax)
4 Issues

in this issue

12 min.
building a better bascule

Bascule. You’ve likely heard the term when riders are discussing a horse’s jump. But what does it mean? Picture a dolphin jumping a wave: The bascule is the round arc its body makes as it reaches the apex of its jump. Now picture a top hunter curling over a fence, his back rounded upward as he stretches his neck forward and down (much like the dolphin) with his knees jerked high. That arc, or bascule, is rewarded by judges in the hunter ring. That’s because it not only is beautiful to look at, but it is also the safest, most efficient way to jump an obstacle. When your horse’s back, withers and shoulders are up, he’s free to bring up his knees for maximum clearance. To achieve that bascule, your horse must reach…

1 min.
first, the flatwork

Your horse’s bascule begins on the flat. On a 60-foot circle to the left, I’ve lightly taken back with my left hand to ask my horse to slightly yield to the bit in that direction. My outside (right) leg applies light pressure to prevent his hips from swinging outward and to maintain the “forward” into my hand. As a result, his back begins to round, his withers elevate and his weight shifts rearward. That hind-leg reach beneath his body is what he’ll need when he leaves the ground in front of a fence so he jumps upward and round.…

1 min.
exercise 1: three-jump gymnastic

A straight approach to the first element of this gymnastic is key. Here, I’ve established a rhythmic, active trot and am using slight right rein and left calf pressure to keep my horse from drifting to the left so he’ll jump straight over the center of the “X”. A crooked horse can’t stay balanced; a straight horse can. My correction worked—my horse is perfectly centered over the X as he leaves the ground. And thanks to our balanced approach, he’s able to use his hind legs fairly effectively. His knees are up, as is his neck. But look at his back: It’s not just flat—it’s inverted. That’s what this exercise and the ones that follow will fix. I remain balanced and centered over my horse as he canters the single stride to…

2 min.
do practice, don’t overdo

Here are some do’s and don’ts to accompany the over-fences exercises: DO wear a helmet any time you jump or flat your horse. DON’T jump (or ride) alone. Not only is this key for safety, but having a friend on the ground will help you assess your horse’s progress and enable you to set jumps without having to dismount. DO repeat any or all of these exercises two to three times a week. Incorporating them into your normal schooling routine will accelerate your horse’s strength and progress. DON’T overtrain. You could sour your horse or make him sore. Building a better bascule is hard work; he’ll be using his muscles and body in many ways he hasn’t before. If he does an exercise well two or three times, reward him…

1 min.
exercise 2: oxer-to-oxer combo

I established an active canter into the compressed two-stride oxerto-oxer line. This will help my horse push off from his hind end with enough energy to jump well and will carry him through the exercise. I’ve contained the energy with light contact, which is also helping my horse to balance. I’m also using slight right rein and left leg pressure to counter the gelding’s tendency to drift left. Jumping the center of the oxer, he reaches deep beneath his body with his hind legs to thrust himself upward, over the jump. Look at his back now! No inversion here. You can see how the oxer’s width is causing him to reach forward and down with his head and neck. He’s doing it all on his own (as you can tell by…

1 min.
exercise 3: single ramped oxer

The ramped oxer is what I call “continuing education.” You get to build from the small verticals in Exercise 1 to the square oxers in Exercise 2 to an oxer that adds the finishing touches to your horse’s jumping form. The oxer’s shape, with the front rail lower than the back one, encourages him to lift his knees and shoulders as he rounds his back and reaches down with his head and neck. Just look at that bascule! To ride the exercise, canter through Exercise 2 first, then loop around to the oxer. Be sure to steady and balance your horse through the turn, then maintain your rhythm on the approach. Enjoy the jump and your improved hunter performance as your horse takes what he’s learned with these exercises and applies…