Last week, I talked about how the different types of jumps will affect where your takeoff point will be. I promised you all the second part where I would talk about how to measure the distance between jumps. So here it is. What you are going to read next should help you to better understand how to set up a combination of jumps and knowing how many strides there will be within the combination. That way, when you are riding alone or walking a course before a competition, you will have a better idea of how to approach each jump before you get to it.
The first thing you need to know is the length of your horse's stride. On average, a horse's stride will be about 12 feet (or 3.65 metres) and a pony's stride will be about 10 feet (or 3.05 metres). Depending on which method you are more comfortable with, you can either calculate the distance between two jumps in feet or in metres.
The next thing you will need to do is measure out the length of your step. Stand with your heels against a wall and take a step. Then, take a measuring tape and measure the distance from the wall to where you are standing. Usually, a person will take a step between 3 and 4 feet (or 0.9 and 1.2 metres). Practice your steps with which ever distance is more comfortable for you.
If you choose to walk a 3 foot step, you will need to take 4 steps to make one stride. If you choose to walk a 4 foot step, you will need to take 3 steps to make one stride.
Next, you are ready to walk a combination. Stand with your back as close to the first jump as possible and walk your 3 or 4 steps to make the "first stride". This "first stride" should not be counted as one of the strides in your combination, however, this is the measurement of your take off and landing points. In general, a horse will takeoff and land about half a stride away from a jump (though depending on the type of jump and its height, these factors will change).
Once you have counted that "first stride", start walking towards the second jump until you are as close as you can to it. As you are walking, count the number of strides. Some people like to count like this: "1,2,3, 1. 1,2,3, 2. 1,2,3, 3. 1,2,3, 4." (this would be for those walking a 3 foot step and need to take 4 steps to make a stride). It can become a little bit difficult for some people to count the strides. You'll need to find the technique that works best for you and stick with it. It may also be best to have someone walk the combination with you to confirm your count, especially when you are still getting used to walking your distances.
Below is a picture of a 3 horse stride combination. The illustration shows how the distances are counted to help you better visualise what I have explained above.
So there is the basics of how to walk and measure the distance between two jump. As I have explained before, depending on the type and height of the jump as well as the stride length of your horse, these measurements will be modified.
Hopefully, this information has been helpful to you. The best thing I could advise you to do is to practice. Once you have calculated and walked your distances, try riding your jumps and modify the distances if you need to. Once you are able to ride through a set of jumps comfortably, try walking the combination again to see how you need to change you step length to work well with your horse's stride and the type of jumps you are using.
I may decide to write a third part to this segment also where I will talk about the different types of jumps as well as how their height, length and colour can affect their levels difficulty. Please let me know if you would like to do this either by emailing, commenting or tweeting me. I may not write it next week, but maybe in the future if enough of you would like to read it.
I hope you are all having a nice weekend and enjoying your horses. Thank you for reading my blog and good luck.