How do you ride your horse in combination fences ?

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In show jumping competitions, there are often two combination fences on a course. Either a double and a triple, or two doubles. You really have to work on it at home, so you don’t feel apprehensive about it. 

Combination fences are a set of obstacles separated by a maximum of one or two strides. They are considered to be one obstacle. So, if there is a problem (like a refusal), you must start the combination again from the beginning, otherwise you will be eliminated. It’s as if you’d forgotten an obstacle!

To work on them in the warm-up, I recommend you enter the combinations in trot. It’s very effective to keep your horse calm and focused. The main problem is that horses rush in double or triple combinations. So, entering in trot is therefore perfect for jumping well and keeping your horse calm throughout a triple fence combination. 

In combinations, the width of the oxers should not be taken into account. You must only focus on their height. You never have issues with their width, as horses jump forward much more easily than upward. Therefore, you should not worry about the width of the oxers.

There are different types of combinations made of verticals and/or oxers. The fences are separated by a distance of one and two strides. So, there are many possible variations

Remember to keep your horse straight, that’s your main goal to make him push on his hocks. That way, your horse will really jump upwards. And not lean to one side or jump flat.

Once the warm-up is over, you can jump the triple combination in canter. To enter a triple, you must have a very steady rhythm to allow your horse to find his marks at a distance. Don’t turn too late, approach it in a straight line that’s long enough to give your horse time to see the fences and adjusts his strides. With a steady rhythm, it will be easier for him to assess the distance he needs and how he’s going to adjust the jumps.

The entrance into the combination conditions the exit. We usually say that we exit as we went in. Then, you have to remain very balanced because it’s a series of jumps. In the landing of a jump, there is always an imbalance because your horse lands on the fore legs. If your horse is rushing, he will have poor balance and be heavy on the forehand, so you won’t be able to correct the strides.

A little trick for horses that are too hot in combinations and who rush: you can relax him with a simple easy fence. This way, you can get him to cool down a bit!

To conclude, combinations are a coordination exercise. You have to work on it at home. There’s no point in practising on big jumps. Even the height of cavaletti jumps is sufficient (50 cm). What is important is to vary the profiles (oxers or verticals) and the number of strides between obstacles. Always try to keep your horse calm so he doesn’t rush to get out of the combination.

Do you have difficulties riding combinations ? What do you think of this email? Leave me a comment here. See you soon !

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