I have been lucky enough to train with some greats in our industry. Unfortunately Charles de Kunffy isn’t one of them however I so appreciate his writing and this quote, “The dressage rider has to be, first of all, a horse person who is acqainted with a diversity of equestrian activities, because only by these means can the nature of the horse be discovered. A dressage rider cannot be made by riding dressage only. The bold and powerful gaits of an alert horse negotiating a natural environment cannot be experienced in a fenced in arena.” It is with this quote I re-disover and apply the importance of cross training.

Hansel has been progressing quickly since the Geoff Clinic last month continuing schooling on steeper diagonals with the leg yields, maintaining more precise 3 tracks on the shoulder-ins, adding counter canter 20 meter circles (which is making the single loops and short side counter canters seem like a cake walk) and of course the general whoa and go. Even in the midst of all this I wasn’t feeling a real thrust forward. Enter the eventer! There’s a local, up and coming, event rider, Amanda Miller Atkins (http://www.millereventing.com/) who comes to a small stable around the corner from mine and I asked if she could swing by my place and take Hansel over a few fences.

This worked brilliantly as my desire to begin some cross training with Hansel, created the necessity to actually have some jumps which actually turned out to be a great HorseGirlTV webisode showing fans how to build jump standards which we launched yesterday actually (https://blog.horsegirltv.com/?p=3274). It was a win all around.

Jump day came and Hansel looked twice a few times at the jumps we made for him but he didn’t seems to mind going over them and while he was a newbie, she simply pointed him to the jump, gave a little leg and over he went easy as pie. He seemed to really like it and the true test of it’s effectiveness for me came the next day when I popped on for a simple walk, trot, canter and had the absolute best thrust in a lengthening down the long side. It was like flying and I can only attribute that to the wonderful jumping the previous day. Thanks Amanda!

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WATCH this video on your iPhone, iPad or non-flash friendly device @ HERE

I was addicted to the jump cross training at this point and the next week, we hauled over to her facility for some more. It was a great experience for the young Hansel to travel 2.5 hours, unload, tack up, walk through some wildly placed, rusted out farm equipment, tall grass, through a hingeless gate and a variety of other boogie man type objects to get to the front field where he was ridden in an open field, with plenty of jumps off a busy highway with a herd of horses looking on.

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WATCH this video on your iPhone, iPad or non-flash friendly device @ HERE

I’ve noticed a marked improvement in his forward and staying in front of the leg since the jumping and wish to incorporate it at least 2x monthly now. It not only has improved the forward but the jump of the canter/gait itself as well as the straightness in the changes. I’ve likewise noticed more confidence in myself and willingness to take him around the farm and in areas of the farm I wouldn’t consider before to get him used to a variety of environments. He’s handling it all like a champ and again I attribute this to his 2 jumping experiences.

We still have a long way to go together but for a horse who was started in the spring as a 5 year old (approximately 1 year and 3 months ago) and who has been in full time training since October 2010 he’s really come leaps and bounds with his training.