Beginning Gridwork with Grady

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!

One thought on “Beginning Gridwork with Grady

  1. I love gymnastics exercises. Delight is young and also weaker in the hind, so he tends to kick or buck to regain his balance underneath him. We’ve been working on his foot placement as well doing grids. I don’t know who has more fun, him or me.

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