Fuerst Grande P, aka ‘Grady’, is a 2012 Hanovarian gelding by Fuerst Romancier. Originally, Grady was meant to be a dressage horse. However, when Grady came to me, he had a very weak hind end and would swap out his leads behind at the canter. He was already a hot horse, which I love, but his heat came from a frantic place and when he lost his balance and coordination, he would panic, become very tense and run. I knew that trying to control his canter with just the use of my aids above him would only create more tension and stress. So what better way to strengthen a horses hind end and have a little fun than jumping?
I decided I would no longer canter Grady unless he had jumped first. I found that jumping loosened up his back and made it easier for him to bend and come through in the hind. I started by setting up a simple gymnastics. I set a trot pole in front of an 18 inch vertical with another small vertical 15′ after with a landing pole behind (see video below). I also included a landing pole after the first vertical. I think of this as jumping with training wheels. I gave him clear direction exactly where to place his feet which gives me less opportunity to get in his way. Just point and shoot.
Grady had practiced this exercise a few times before we shot this video so he already had a general concept of jumping, but I still started simple with all ground poles and one very small vertical. Had this been his first time, I would have started with all ground poles so he could figure out where to place his feet before intimidating him with any height. I like to give my horses a chance to learn before I figure out how brave they are.
You can see from the video that he anticipates a lot which creates more tempo and a quicker jump than I would like, but there is much progress from our first try until our last. I included some of his mistakes so you can watch him trying to figure out his job and see the end result for that day.
This video was shot a year ago. Stay tuned to see how well Grady has progressed as I will be adding more ‘Gridwork with Grady’ each week!!
If you love gymnastics as much as I do, feel free to comment with your suggestions on exercises I should try!