With Robert Booth BHS Stage 5 Accredited Professional Coach

Summer in the horse world is all about shows and competitions, which is what all the hard work through the winter months have been leading up to.

On the Island there’s plenty of choices of disciplines to cater for the majority of horses and ponies, from showing and dressage to show jumping. 

We are lucky to have both indoor and outdoor facilities on the Island that hold frequent shows both on surfaces and on grass.  Many show centres are tending to go for surface arenas nowadays to ensure that the show will always go ahead regardless of the weather. This is leading to fewer shows on grass, and some riders are now choosing only to jump on surfaces.  If we are not careful, though, this will lead to losing a lot of our County Shows which would be a shame. 

Both our British Show jumping and County Show on the Island are on grass. Grass arenas are dependant on weather conditions and often have slight gradients and variable terrain. Riding and jumping on grass requires a different way of riding because there is usually more space between jumps that call for more energy and a faster tempo. 

When walking the course, we need to be thinking not only of the route to take, but also the conditions underfoot, what studs to use, where to put more power in the horse for uphill jumps, especially oxers where you have to make the back rail, and where to sit up and balance the horse for downhill jumps when the gradient tends to put the horse on the forehand. 

Personally, I prefer to jump on grass: these shows tend to have more space and atmosphere and the horses seem to enjoy them more. Particularly since since the pandemic, when we were confined to our own school, it’s nice to get out and about. It is also really important that young horses learn to cope with different situations. 

Robert Booth is an equine trainer for Rodgebrook Horses. Visit their website at www.rodgebrookhorses.co.uk or telephone 01983 521870.