One of my favorite exercises for strengthening a horses jump: Trot poles to an oxer. Engages the hind end, sets the pace and assists the distance. I like to put considerable height once the horse understands the exercise. Grady is only 5 and a little behind the learning curve so 2’9″ is plenty difficult. Soon, I would like to get to a 3′ square oxer. Some of my more experienced horses would trot a 4′ square.
Make sure that your horse understands how to trot through poles, otherwise he may try to jump them, in which case, you better hope your horse is coordinated. For first timers, use just a ground pole in place of the jump and work your way up when your horse is sure where to place his feet.
If your horse gets anxious, like Eager Beaver Grady, he may still make a bounce out of the trot poles his first time. I walked Grady up to the poles and picked up the trot over the first pole so he could figure out it what I was asking. Unfortunately, I did not get this debacle on video. 🙂
Share your experience trying this exercise, or your favorite gymnastics exercise in the comments below.